On May 3, 2016, the new virtual textbook vendor for Mills College, eCampus, went live in order to supply books for the 2016 summer session after the physical bookstore on campus closed.
Like the bookstores of many other small college campuses, the bookstore at Mills was forced to close after the previous vendor, Follett, left due to declining sales. All spirit wear and convenience items are now being sold in the Tea Shop, and there are plans to rework the Tea Shop to accommodate the items better.
Junior Sian Morris finds eCampus more accessible and easy to navigate compared to how the bookstore on campus was.
“At the beginning of the year there were always so many people and you always had to wait in line,” Morris said. “It was pretty time consuming. Now it’s easier to find the book you need for your class.”
Although the virtual bookstore makes shopping for books easier, students miss the convenience section of the bookstore for everyday necessities.
“I had a cold earlier this year, and there was no Sudafed,” Morris said. “I really think we need an on-campus store for convenience items like shampoo and tampons.”
Along with the Tea Shop, there is a non-food vending machine in Adams Plaza that supplies students with convenience items 24/7. Spirit Wear, besides the small selection at the Tea Shop, can be found on eCampus.
Dorothy Calimeris, director of auxiliary services, thinks that a virtual spirit store will be beneficial to everyone.
“The advantages to an online spirit shop are that family members or alumni can log on and buy stuff for their students or themselves,” Calimeris said. “It’s a lot more accessible to have an online version.”
The use of the empty building is still being discussed, and many students would like to see it turned
into a lounge or central meeting space. Calimeris believes that it is unlikely that a bookstore will ever return to campus, as more and more college campuses are opting for a virtual bookstore rather than a physical one.
“I think that era has come and gone,” Calimeris said “especially for a campus our size.”