Bookstore to open in Feb.

Next semester could start out much the same.

Now the official opening of the store has been pushed to more than two weeks past the start of the spring term, according to Andrew Mahoney, director of auxiliary services.,Emerson College students and staff were promised a new Barnes Noble-run bookstore at the beginning of this semester, but construction delays forced students to purchase their textbooks online.

Next semester could start out much the same.

Now the official opening of the store has been pushed to more than two weeks past the start of the spring term, according to Andrew Mahoney, director of auxiliary services.

“The soft opening on Jan. 8 will be to debug the operation,” Mahoney said. “We’re not anticipating an awful lot of business the first week, so the official opening will be Feb. 7.”

The grand opening will include a welcome reception for the public and a “relaxed atmosphere” for everyone to get comfortable with the new location, and the final plan for the event will be laid out within the coming weeks.

Although students will need to buy textbooks for their classes, the store’s management expects most students to continue to purchase their textbooks online in the same manner as the fall semester and has allotted significant storage space in the back of the store to organize online orders.

According to Mahoney, the first few weeks after the soft opening will focus on meeting the needs of students during the “spring rush,” and that the de-bugging will be a “slow process, as the staff gets familiar with the new space.”

The temporary Colonial Building location will be closed in late December and everything will be moved to the new store.

Students who encountered problems retrieving textbooks from the old bookstore should not discover the same problems at the new location.

Freshman film major Derek Pyle purchased his textbooks in-store for the fall semester and called the process “surprisingly mediocre.”

He hopes the problems will be alleviated with the arrival of the new bookstore.

Dara Continenza, a freshman writing, literature and publishing major who bought her textbooks online, said her experience was positive and plans to use the online ordering system again in the spring.

Construction at the 114 Boylston St. site was halted in mid-August as workers discovered a steel beam running along the hollow sidewalk beneath the entryway for support.

Work on the bookstore had been moving from back fowward, starting with the rear storage rooms and leaving the front of the store and the entryway for last.

The front of the structure had significantly deteriorated with time, and caulk sealing had begun to allow water under the building, Mahoney said.

“The utility components involved took a lot of time,” Mahoney said. “The beam had to be fabricated, and we had to get the okay from the city of Boston to proceed and then had to make sure everything had been engineered correctly.”

The job took longer than most expected, as a solution needed to be developed, approvals secured, and the beam fabricated, and eventually installed before the remainder of the work could be completed.

Karen Dickinson, assistant director of auxiliary services, said Barnes Noble will completely revamp the old Emerson bookstore.

“You’ll come in the front door and have your general trade books, so you’ll be able to do general reading and reference,” Dickinson said. “It will be a much larger selection than what is currently available, and what was available previously in the Little Building.”

The new bookstore will also feature a section for faculty authors, with couches and chairs for reading.

There will also be space for a much larger Emerson merchandise section than in the previous bookstore.

The 5,500 square feet of space is more than twice the size of the previous bookstore.

Students will be able to browse open stacks of textbooks, eliminating the need for student employees to retrieve them, Mahoney said.

After the rush in the early part of the semester, the stacks will be removed to make room for monthly readings, organized by the writing, literature and publishing department.

Emerson ceased relations with the Follett Higher Education Group, the college’s previous textbook provider, at the end of the 2005-06 school year.

The new management will be in charge of placing all orders and controlling bookstore operations, but the majority of employees will continue to be Emerson students. Barnes Noble.

“It’s a collaborative effort, but for all intents and purposes, they [Barnes Noble] manage it totally,” Mahoney said.

“[Follett] did a wonderful job, but they were reluctant to move to a new location. We felt we were not getting the level of attention that the college deserved.”

Mahoney said the new location will bring the store more business as well as further Emerson’s transition from a small and locally recognized college to a nationally known institution.

“The old bookstore was open to the public, but unless you went to Emerson, you couldn’t really locate it,” Mahoney said.

After the delays and construction difficulties, Mahoney said he is eager to open the doors on the new storefront.

“The biggest thing that will be different is that for the first time, the bookstore will really be open and accessible to the general public,” he said. “It’s going to feel really good to finally remove that scaffolding.”