Has the Coop Met Its Match?

Barnes and Noble to Manage Harvard University Bookstore

Following an unusual year in the red, Harvard Cooperative Society President Jeremiah P. Murphy '73 announced early this month that Barnes and Noble will assume management of the Coop by June 1996.

Last year was the first time in recent memory the Coop suffered a loss--about $200,000, said William R. Dickson, chair of the Coop's board of directors.

And if the Coop had not brought Barnes and Noble on board, the 113-year-old general merchandise department store could have gone bankrupt, Dickson said.

"In the long term, the future of the Coop was shadowed somewhat," said Dickson, who has been on the board for more than 15 years. "It could've on bankrupt it would have happened in the next few years, but...."

The agreement with Barnes and Noble, a nation-wide book retailer, is for 15 years, according to Coop Director Larry Cheng '96. But Murphy said the Coop can exit the agreement at any time it is unhappy.

In an interview last week, Murphy, said that the Coop wanted to stay competition economy that is divided superstores and small .

For expertise, turned Barnes and Noble Bookstores Inc., the sister company of the publicly-traded Barnes and Noble Inc.

"They really do the business that we are interested in," Murphy said.

Barnes and Noble Bookstores operates 312 campus bookstores across the country and has been doing so for 27 years, according to Stan Frank, head of the company's college division.

Murphy said the Coop's department-store format has become obsolete. And as president, Murphy said he has been forced to reconsider the store's mission.

"We were rethinking what makes sense for the Coop in this day and age," Murphy said in an interview last week. "Our roots are in the academic community. We're going to have the best bookstore in the world."

Although plans for renovating the Coop's six stores are not final, the Harvard Square landmark will be more modern and customer-friendly, Murphy said.

On the first level the a small cafe. Prints, trade books, textbooks and in the store, Murphy said. Other items such as housewares may be stocked during peak periods.

Less popular items such as men's suits and women's wear will likely his eliminated.