U-store showcases authors
Princeton NJ -- Scott Burnham, professor and chair of music, spoke on Beethoven. Maurizio Viroli, professor of politics, discussed Machiavelli. U.S. Sen. Robert Torricelli talked about making speeches.
All were featured authors in a program launched last fall on the new book floor at the Princeton University Store.
The busy schedule continues this spring. In the next few weeks, speakers will include:
David Kansas, co-founder and editor-in-chief of the popular Internet investment site, TheStreet.com, reading from "TheStreet.com Guide To Investing on the Internet" at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 6.
Robert Hollander, a 1955 alumnus and professor of European literature and Romance languages and literatures, reading from "Dante's Inferno, A New Translation" at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 7.
John Bogle, a 1951 alumnus and 1999 winner of the University's Woodrow Wilson Award, who is founder and senior chair of the board of The Vanguard Group of mutual funds, reading from "Bogle on Investing" at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 13.
Author David Dalton reading from "Been Here and Gone: A Memoir of the Blues," followed by a performance by acoustic blues guitarist Billy Hector at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 20.
Novelist Rebecca Goldstein, a 1977 Graduate School alumna, reading from "Properties of Light" at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 22.
Former U.S. Sen. Bill Bradley, a 1965 alumnus, reading from "The Journey From Here" at a time to be announced Saturday, Feb. 24.
All events will take place on the third level of the U-Store. After reading from or talking about their works, the speakers usually take questions from the audience and sign books. According to U-Store president James Sykes, turnout for the readings has been growing, with the store attracting a mixed audience of students, faculty, staff and townspeople. Nearly 100 people came to hear Pat Croce, president of the National Basketball Association Philadelphia 76ers, in mid-January.
More changes in store
The readings are just one of the many changes at the store since it was renovated over the summer. Most noticeable to many has been the relocation of tradebooks from level one to level three. The space on level three, formerly occupied by textbooks and offices, has been reconfigured so that it can house both types of books and serve as a gathering place for such events as the readings. Shoppers who want to peruse the books can choose from several comfortable chairs or a dozen window seats overlooking Lockhart Courtyard.
"There are members of the faculty who have expressed concern about the decision to locate books on the third floor," Sykes said. "The board of the store, which includes faculty, students, alumni and one University administrator, made the decision after extensive consultation and research. The store needed to come up with a format that would allow it to balance its books, meet the needs of its customers, and compete with the book superstores and the Internet.
"Our research indicated that we needed to offer a better space for books than we could offer on the first floor and that there were very substantial negative implications for our revenues if books remained on the first floor," he continued. "The store does not make money on books. We actually subsidize our book operations through our other merchandise.
"So some of the decision was financial," he said. "But the third floor also offers some real advantages for books. It provides an attractive space for the speakers series. It allows us to house tradebooks and textbooks near each other, which can be helpful to the serious academic shopper."
Sykes said that store personnel are continuing to work on the transition -- as well as to seek feedback on the changes. In an effort to draw more customers to the third floor books area, they have designed displays for the first floor featuring special promotions.
"We put a large section of our tradebooks on sale each month," Sykes said. "The displays on the first floor promote those sales. In the future, we hope to work with different departments at the University in designing sales and events around a particular subject area, such as history."
A book wall has been installed near the entrance to the U-Store off Lockhart Courtyard featuring new and noteworthy books. In addition, computer books are sold on the first level near computer equipment and supplies, and books about Princeton are sold on the second level near other University merchandise. Sale books now are available on the lower mezzanine.
"We're trying to design it so that wherever you look there are books," Sykes said.
"The other major challenge for us," he added, "is to improve the selection of books we offer. Princeton compares very well to other schools in the number of books it stocks, but we need to do a much better job of selecting books that faculty members and other customers want to buy, including the kinds of serious academic books that they can't find in the superstores. We have been asking faculty members and others to help us do a better job."
One big change is yet to come. A customer elevator was set to be installed last summer during the renovation, but was delayed due to asbestos removal. The elevator will be erected this summer near the Lockhart Courtyard entrance.