How Norris cornered the market

Miki Johnson

Freshmen who packed Norris Bookstore last week might not have realized that the on-campus bookstore has not always been the only place to go for textbooks.

But upperclassmen remember that last year they could buy their books at Student Book Exchange, formerly at 1737 Sherman Ave.

When SBX closed in August, most professors already had ordered books for Fall Quarter. Norris Bookstore agreed to supply those books instead.

George Racine, Kellogg ’30, opened SBX in May 1938. Follet Higher Education bought SBX in 1986.

NU students also may recall Great Expectations, an independent specialty bookstore, formerly at 911 Foster St. that closed in September 2001. Jeff Rice, the bookstore’s owner since 1995, was forced to close the 52-year-old store because of increased competition from large bookstore chains and the Internet.

“I wish they had stayed open,” said Emily Schultze, an Education junior. “There’s just something cool about a small, eclectic bookstore.”

Even longer ago, an NU student co-op specialized in used books was owned by Chandler’s Inc. The store, formerly at 630 Davis St., opened in the 1910s.

Students paid $1 to join the co-op and could apply for a 5 percent rebate on their textbook purchases at the end of the year, said Chandler’s owner Morton Johnson, Kellogg ’63.

He closed the Evanston branch in 1995.

Comix Revolution, 606 Davis St., began supplying books for a handful of English professors last year. Owner Jim Mortensen said textbooks can be a risky venture for small businesses.

“If it’s half of my business, I’m out of business,” Mortensen said. “But if it’s 10 or 15 percent … it can be a profitable sideline.”