Amazon coming soon to Illini Union Bookstore


Wenyuan Chen

Amazon’s on campus pick-up location will open at the Illini Union bookstore this fall. Photo taken on Monday, Aug. 29, 2016.

By Will Gerard, Contributing Writer

For any student recently visiting the Illini Union Bookstore, it is difficult to miss the construction occurring six days a week. Upon entering the store, one encounters bright yellow signs reading, “please pardon our dust while we work on exciting changes.”

The change is tentatively scheduled for a mid-November debut – featuring the addition of an Amazon store located opposite Starbucks. The 2,200-square-foot space will be the first of its kind in the state of Illinois.

Other additions include a renovation of the second floor, which will bring dressing rooms, new carpets and fully adjustable LED lighting.

“I don’t use (Amazon) that often, but I think it will be convenient. What I’ll typically do is come here and compare textbook prices,” said Jonathan Basa, sophomore in DGS.

Bookstore director Tod Petrie has been working with the Illini Union Bookstore since January 2015. At the time of his hire, Amazon had just opened its own Purdue location, which, along with a few other sites, has served as inspiration for the project. The main difference between the sites, however, is that Purdue did not have a prior licensed on-campus bookstore.

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“We’re the only ones, from what I understand, that have it in the bookstore,” Petrie said.

The arrival of an Amazon store will benefit those with membership accounts. Amazon Prime members will receive free same-day pickup on orders placed before noon in addition to a free return policy. The store itself will operate separate of the bookstore. Amazon recently hired its own staff, which will be made up of primarily University students. Petrie estimates the number is around 90 percent students.

“I live in an apartment, and sometimes our mailbox is too small, or they leave things out front, which leaves things at risk of being stolen. I feel like it might even be quicker too when there’s a place,” said Brandon Chan, sophomore in DGS.

Due to an increased rush for textbooks, the Illini Union Bookstore was forced to more than double their staff at the start of the school year. The store’s new role as the only on-campus provider led to a major influx of students and lines stretching out the door.

Book shortages were due to an estimate that was a “little low” according to Petrie. He said that although they will be better prepared next spring, it will not be a direct result of the new store.

“It’s still going to be busy (next semester). There are still going to be 44,000 students here, and many students were already ordering from Amazon so it won’t be a huge impact,” Petrie said.

Many of the potential effects of the Amazon store have yet to be seen since there are so few available for comparison. Currently, there are only 11 other similar college locations. Three others are set to open by the start of 2017.

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