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Posted on Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 11:19 a.m.

Michigan Book & Supply, two Ypsilanti bookstores to close as result of bankruptcy

By Nathan Bomey


Michigan Book & Supply at the corner of South State Street and North University Avenue is set to close.

Melanie Maxwell |

(See related story: What's next for closing Michigan Book & Supply in downtown Ann Arbor?)

Bankrupt college bookstore chain Nebraska Book Co. plans to close Ann Arbor's Michigan Book & Supply and Ypsilanti's Campus Book & Supply and Mike's Bookstore.

The company — a subsidiary of NBC Acquisition Corp., which is downsizing under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection — had announced in January that it was considering closing four of its Ann Arbor area stores.

NBC filed a revised bankruptcy reorganization plan on Friday, declaring that it would close about 40 stores by March 31, reflecting about one-third of its remaining off-campus locations. The company is preserving its on-campus stores, which are performing better.

In Ann Arbor, the closure of Michigan Book & Supply is particularly significant because of its high-profile location at the corner of South State and North University. That two-story property, on the edge of the University of Michigan's central campus, is located among the highest-priced commercial real estate in Washtenaw County.

In Ypsilanti, the closure of Campus Book & Supply at 1078 N. Huron River Dr. and Mike's Bookstore at 901 Washtenaw Avenue marks a blow to the Eastern Michigan University area business community.

It appears that NBC's Ned's Bookstore at 707 W. Cross St. has been spared closure, although a company spokeswoman could not be reached for comment this morning. Ned's and Mike's shared a store manager, who referred questions to the parent company.

The 40 stores account for $3 million in losses this year, NBC said.

"We knew we owed it to our creditors and the Company to make some changes," NBC President Barry Major said in a statement. "The Chapter 11 process allows us to initiate store closings if it will improve our overall financial performance; this decision does indeed improve our financial outlook."

Ulrich's Bookstore on South University Avenue in Ann Arbor escaped the list of closures. NBC on Jan. 17 received approval to extend the lease for Ulrich's through Aug. 31, 2016.

Under bankruptcy law, companies can reject leases with court approval. Although lease parties can file objections to the proposed closures, judges typically favor the debtors.

The closures underscore the many challenges facing off-campus college bookstores, including on-campus competitors, online giants like and the emergence of e-textbooks.

"The college bookstore model is not what it used to be," said Michael Norris, a publishing industry analyst with Maryland-based Simba Information. "It's not the concessions selling $7 Milk Duds. It's just one possible channel for book purchasing out of many."

Rising tuition and the nation's prolonged economic downturn have also pummeled bookstores.

"College costs have just been rising at very high rates over the years, and at the same time students have just been under even more pressure to pay off these enormous loans that they’re taking and of course to pay for the operational costs of college, which obviously includes textbooks," Norris said. "College students are looking around for cheaper prices and a lot of them are buying books online."

Contact's Nathan Bomey at (734) 623-2587 or You can also follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's newsletters.



Tue, Mar 13, 2012 : 1:41 p.m.

While some may blame the book industry's economics, I blame it one company owning stores that were right on top of each other, or in lousy locations. You can't buy competing stores and then price them the same and wonder why you cannibalize yourself. Lousy management. In Ypsilanti, Mike's and Ned's are located 1/10th of a mile apart. Campus Book and Supply is way on the other side of the campus, by the river. You can't own three stores that close together and make money, unless you're a high traffic (drugstore, 7-11) type of store. If students wanted to compare prices, Campus would not be in the mix and they'd visit Mike's and Ned's and buy from the cheaper one OR the last one if the prices were the same. In Ann Arbor, Ulrich's and Michigan Book and Supply are 4/10th of a mile apart (basically the diag) and again you're going to buy from the cheaper one or the most recent one if prices are the same.


Tue, Mar 13, 2012 : 12:40 p.m.

5 decades ago college students were getting fleeced on text book purchases and nothing has changed. Text book selling companies aren't willing to change with the times so they go bankrupt.only themselves to blame.


Tue, Mar 13, 2012 : 1:43 a.m.

So a major chain that doesn't know local markets, screwed up and lost a lot of money in... local markets. Funny now the predecessors in this same space made enough money to be great acquisition targets. WTHeck are they teaching CEO's née MBA's these days, that they can't keep something profitable going at the bottom? Data says that they are raping the profits at the top.


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 9:51 p.m.

Wow. Two empty buildings in downtown Ann Arbor. They can't find someone to take over Borders now they have to deal with this one. Not a surprise though. Our childs hi school books are now on line and now I am finding out another class is also going on line as well. As for Ypsilanti? Some food joint will take it over. Ypsilanti needs more restaurants like we need another hole in the head.

Wolf's Bane

Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 7:26 p.m.

Sad about Ulrich's Bookstore on South University Avenue, I used to work there in mail room. It was a cool place. and my first job.


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 7:03 p.m.

Sad to see the bookstore bite the dust, but as others have mentioned, a broken text book model can't work over the long run. You can't charge hundreds of dollars for new books, offer pennies for a return, and then the publisher changes one sentence and calls it a "new edition" that every student must have each semester, and the bookstore won't buy it back. Total scam. Publishers ripped off students long enough, and I sincerely hope that the ebooks model works for text books now at a minimal cost to students. That vacancy will leave a big hole on State Street and it's probably only a matter of time before Ulrich's faces the same fate and goes down. Imagine a college town like A2 without a book store! Let's hope a chain restaurant doesn't fill that corner State Street spot, but greedy A2 landlords will jack up the rent so the only businesses that can survive are national chain restaurants. Greed is killing the uniqueness of college towns, first through the bankruptcy of college bookstores because of greedy publishers, and then through the greedy landlords jacking up the rent on commercial properties. Who needs another chain restaurant? Not A2.

Patrick Franklin

Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 6:22 p.m.

By the time I graduated in 2004, it was cheaper and more convenient to get used books on Amazon, or the list than to head over to one of the campus bookstores. In a lot of cases, I saved more than 25% on books and if used was available, I'd get them for far less than the listed price at the bookstore. I agree with Dave. A tech writing book should not cost $90 for 250 pages to go into a second edition - and thus be ineligible to sell back - in the space of a single semester. It's ridiculous; it's an out of date model. It's overpriced. Parking isn't the issue. Panhandlers are not the issue. $90 textbooks that now serve as paperweights? Issue.

Wolf's Bane

Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 6:06 p.m.

Yeah, the for lease sign to the right of the entrance was sort of a give-away! It is a great building, let's hope a good business moves in like an Apple Store!


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 9:53 p.m.

All Apple has to do is break its lease and boom another vacant store in another otherwise vacant mall. I have seen this numerous times.


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 7:05 p.m.

Unfortunately, they are already at Briarwood. I wouldn't be surprised if Briarwood forced Apple to sign an agreement not to open a store in the downtown area......just speculating here. Malls are notorious for killing downtowns in many ways.


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 5:45 p.m.

I guess that's what happens when you try to sell a book for $275 when people can easily buy it elsewhere for $50-$75, or rent it for even less. Shocker. Refusal to change with the times and keep your business relevant means you go out of business. It's unfortunate for the people who will lose their jobs.


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 5:38 p.m.

Who's the landlord at South State and North U? What do they think about this? Will they contest the broken lease? What types of tenants will they look for next? Any fallout from having two high-profile vacancies at the same time (i.e., Borders)? Anyway, as a townie I say, "BRING BACK KRESGE'S!" Remember the lunch counter where you could get a limeade for a nickel?.... oh, wait.....


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 9:55 p.m.

I remember when Kresges closed and that book store opened. O wait....I am dating myself again. Sounds like we all need to reinvest in another Kresges. I know of one store up in Holly that reminds me of this.


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 7:46 p.m.

Nice -- I feel old just admitting I remember it being there!


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 7:31 p.m.

This sounds really old, but my grandmother worked the counter at Kresge's way back in the day. Wow, so long ago!!!

Emma B

Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 4:17 p.m.

Well, this will be a bummer for all the art students who used the Book & Supply to get their art supplies like I did-- in some cases they were cheaper than places like Michael's.

Joe Hood

Tue, Mar 13, 2012 : 2:53 a.m.

Crazy, yet there is an art store in mid town Detroit: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>

Wolf's Bane

Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 7:27 p.m.

We have this thing call the internet where you can get supplies minus the retail mark-up.

Alan Benard

Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 3:58 p.m.

College books stores are a horrendous racket and they are reaping what they have sown. Universities and colleges are making deals directly with e-book publishers, including those who publish under Creative Commons licenses, making them open source. Books are better, and you can buy one if you want from these publishers -- direct and at lower cost. An example: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 3:39 p.m.

Rather than blaming this on the old school textbook business model, won't someone blame this on the aggressive panhandling in the area or the lack of parking?


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 11:04 p.m.

It's clearly the students faults for not spending more money at these stores.


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 5:35 p.m.

It's clearly Gov. Snyder's fault.


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 4:12 p.m.

Can we blame Obama too? He comes to Ann Arbor and a month-and-a-half later the book store closes. There must be a connection. Rush could make one.

Alan Benard

Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 4 p.m.

Panhandlers, lack of parking and unions made a holding company go bankrupt? Is this really a college town?

Audion Man

Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 3:59 p.m.

It was unions that did it.


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 3:58 p.m.

Actually, I think it was the city-sponsored public art that drove this place out of business.


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 3:43 p.m.

How about both then? And the potential risk of fire by setting foot in one of these businesses due to a lack of fire department funding?


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 3:36 p.m.

Not a surprise. The continued fleecing of students by the text book industry had to stop. These greedy stores soured students and forced them to turn to alternative methods to purchase books. You can't ask students to buy a book for $250 and then turn around and give them $20 for it 4 months later and expect to get repeat business. Broken business models will get eaten alive by the internet...Borders and now this. Live and learn, folks.


Thu, Mar 15, 2012 : 6:02 p.m.

kelpav18, He said the textbook industry, not college bookstores. No matter who you blame, the industry was ripping off students. The years of fleecing has caught up with them. The industry is dying as a result of its own greed. There needs to be fewer textbook stores. Hopefully something interesting and prosperous moves into these locations.


Tue, Mar 13, 2012 : 5:14 p.m.

&quot;Fleecing of students&quot;? Really? Ask yourself this Dave: If college bookstores were so profitable, why isn't there on of every corner? As for the value of buy backs, they are affected by the demand. If a prof doesn't reserve a textbook for the next term, it loses value. Publishers encourage authors to continually update their editions as well making the prior one obsolete and of no value. The bookstores have no control over this whatsoever. The only people making money in this industry are the publishers and the authors. From what I gather, you have little to no inside knowledge on how this industry operates.


Mon, Mar 12, 2012 : 3:36 p.m.

I wonder which fast food company will replace this one?


Tue, Mar 13, 2012 : 2:08 p.m.

I really hope not. Maybe a nice good buffet maybe? There already is a McD one street over. I hope a healthier restaurant goes in over McD or those other fast food burger joints.

Wolf's Bane

Tue, Mar 13, 2012 : 12:58 p.m.