Iowa Book enters new partnership with Barnes and Noble College

After over a century of local ownership, Iowa City’s beloved book and apparel store, Iowa Book, will be overseen day-to-day by Barnes and Noble College.

Iowa+Book+is+seen+on+Aug.+4%2C+2021.+the+bookstore+will+now+be+managed+day-to-day+by+Barnes+and+Noble.

Jerod Ringwald

Iowa Book is seen on Aug. 4, 2021. the bookstore will now be managed day-to-day by Barnes and Noble.

Eleanor Hildebrandt, News Editor


After over a century of local ownership, Iowa Book has a new partner.

Barnes and Noble College added Iowa Book to its holdings on Aug. 9. The Vanderhoefs, an Iowa City family, have owned Iowa Book since 1944, but the shop is over a century old. 

Kurt Vanderhoef, the current owner, said Iowa City residents won’t see many changes to the store as Barnes and Noble takes over most of the day-to-day work.

“People shouldn’t see a lot of differences when they walk in the door,” he said. “They’ve added some apparel, and there’s an emphasis on other stuff. We see that as a good switch.”

Vanderhoef will remain in a consulting role as Barnes and Noble College leases the store. He said he will likely return to the store every day for a few more months before taking a backseat on operations. 

Vanderhoef said the partnership allowed his father, Pete, 81, to retire from his ownership and take more time for himself — something Vanderhoef will have soon as well. He said his grandfather purchased Iowa Book 77 years ago from Iowa City resident A.O. Williams.

 

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Barnes and Noble College Vice President Marc Eckhart oversees the Iowa Book partnership. He said this is an opportunity to expand the assortment of products offered at Iowa Book. The shop will continue to offer textbooks, school supplies, and Hawkeye-branded products, he said. 

Eckhart said there will be an improved and expanded e-commerce experience under the new partnership — like a larger assortment of items, product rating and reviews, and multiple product images — that he is excited to open.

“Fanatics, who really is the leader in the licensed sports product arena, that’s the type of consumer, fan experience, that we will be delivering to Hawkeye fans through the Iowa Book website,” he said.

Barnes and Noble put in a bid for the Hawk Shop when it opened to a public/private partnership in October 2020. As The Daily Iowan previously reported, Follet Higher Education Group ultimately won the bid to the partnership in March.

RELATED: Regents approve University of Iowa Hawk Shop private partnership

Eckhart said Barnes and Noble has been looking for an opportunity to serve the people of Iowa City and the university. He said this is an uncommon partnership.

“This is a very unique situation, to have a presence in Iowa City and serve the students and fans and alumni and Iowa City residents,” he said. “So, very different [than the Hawk Shop], but just a great opportunity.”

Vanderhoef said all the full-time employees remained in their position at Iowa Book, except for one who moved to a part-time schedule. 

He said those who held part-time positions — mainly students — needed to reapply for their positions under the new partnership. 

“Quite a few students returned,” he said. “And everyone had the opportunity to interview, if they wanted to. A couple did move on.”

Eckhart said Barnes and Noble is ready to build off the century of work Iowa City families have put into Iowa Book as it continues managing the store.

“We’re just really excited to be a part of the Iowa City community,” he said. “We think the Hawkeye brand is extremely strong, and building on everything the Vanderhoefs, as longtime owners, have done and bringing more Hawkeye, black and gold products to the market… We’re excited to see where this goes.”

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