Turning the page: York University Bookstore to undergo renovation

bookstore refresh concept drawing featured image
York U bookstore refresh concept drawing featured image

The York University Bookstore in York Lanes will undergo a renovation and refresh starting in November.

The York University Development Corporation (YUDC) together with the University Bookstore embarked on the project to renovate and refresh the Bookstore space so that it could continue to meet the needs of the York University community. The Bookstore, which encompasses two floors, has not undergone any significant renovation in many years and, in addition to the wear and tear of heavy student traffic (439,092 total visits in 2014 alone), the finishes were badly damaged by a flood in late 2013.

“After 25 years, the store certainly needs a refresh,” said Steve Glassman, director, Bookstores & Printing Services. “The goal of the renovation is to make both levels pleasant to browse and create a place of discovery. The new layout must also handle the beginning of term busy periods in a safe and efficient manner. The Bookstore welcomes its partnership with YUDC in renovating the space for students and the community.”

A preliminary design concept drawing for the entrance to the new bookstore
A preliminary design concept drawing for the entrance to the new bookstore
A student contemplates a computer purchase in the York Bookstore circa 1991
A student contemplates a computer purchase in the York Bookstore circa 1991

The designs have not been finalized, but Glassman and YUDC will share their plans with the York University community once they are completed this fall.

There will be no changes made to the Bookstore during its busiest period in September. In November, while the renovation is underway, the store’s main operations will carry on in its current basement space that will be accessed directly from a new outdoor entrance. Other Bookstore operations will have storefront presence on the York Lanes concourse. This will ensure that essential services, such as book returns, continue to operate smoothly and York-branded products continue to be positioned front and centre. Before any of these changes take place, information and diagrams will be posted throughout York Lanes.

Since opening in York Lanes in 1991, the York University Bookstore has changed its form and product mix several times. Once spanning more than three levels and selling stereos, televisions, computers and microwaves, it has gradually consolidated to its current form and taken over the exclusive sale of York-branded clothing and memorabilia.

Since his arrival as director in 2004, Glassman has guided the Bookstore through the rise of digital books and the industry-wide decline in the sales of printed books by expanding York’s offering of digital books. He initiated one of the first textbook rental programs in Canada, providing significant savings to cash-strapped students.

“The changes in retailing and in the publishing and textbook industry are forefront in our minds,” he said. “We fiercely advocate for unique print and digital content for the University as we believe in York’s legacy as an innovative university.

The York University Bookstore as it looks today
The York University Bookstore as it looks today

“The Bookstore sees the price of textbooks going up year after year, on average double or triple the rate of inflation. Our mission has become one of trying to offer students options wherever possible. We offer the lower cost eBook option. Sometimes we find an unbound, loose-leaf edition and source as many used copies as we can. The Bookstore has developed a rental program and is very bullish on the 5 per cent savings earned in its Scholar Dollar program exclusively created for York.”

The York University Bookstore and YUDC are planning to host a grand reopening of the new Bookstore in the summer of 2016.

As an added benefit of the renovation, the project will also allow a new retailer to be added to York Lanes. Further details about the new retailer will be announced in the coming months.