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An author reading in the Coffman bookstore.

Periodically, the University of Minnesota Bookstores invites local, regional, and national best-selling authors to read and autograph their books at the Coffman store.

Revamped U of M bookstore turns three

By Pauline Oo

February 28, 2006

You're bound to be impressed when you enter the University of Minnesota Bookstores in Coffman Union. Not only does the Twin Cities campus store have an astonishing number of books and magazines--200,000 titles by 3,500 different publishers spanning the globe--it has a wide selection of clothing, electronics, art supplies, greeting cards, hand lotions and candles, knick-knacks, jewelry, clocks and watches, key chains, and golf-related items. The store, at 46,000 square feet, is the largest public college bookstore in Minnesota and one of the largest independent college bookstores in the nation.

This Friday (March 3), the store celebrates its third anniversary. No festivities are planned, but those running it hope the campus community and visitors will continue to frequent the store--if not to buy a specific item, then to browse and enjoy all it has to offer.

Bookstore specials

To receive advance notice of the visiting authors, see author schedule.

The Bookstores also participates in The Spoken Word, a public radio series featuring talks and performances about literature, the arts, and culture that are recorded at independent booksellers throughout the United States. (A segment with author Temple Grandin was just taped at the Coffman store)

"The University of Minnesota Bookstore at Coffman Union is truly a 'super' bookstore in every sense of the word," says Bob Crabb, U Bookstores director. "It has the depth and quality of an independent bookstore, an extensive section of textbooks, an unequaled selection of technical books as well as the browsing environment of a book superstore, complete with Starbucks Coffee just outside the doors."

(Over a recent lunch hour, this writer found numerous people thumbing through magazines and reading books on the many chairs littered throughout the store and a handful of others shopping for gift items and University of Minnesota merchandise.)

Fast Facts: U of M Bookstore at Coffman Union

* Offers the region's largest selection of health science and medical reference titles (9,000).

* Stocks 25,000 general merchandise items, 10,000 art items, and more than 625 titles from 598 University of Minnesota faculty authors.

* Sells more than 20,000 imprinted wire-bound notebooks and 8,000 hooded sweatshirts per semester.

* Employs more than 150 students.

* Processes more than 15,000 customer transactions on the first day of class.

* The U Bookstores Web site was developed in 1995, averages 52,000 hits per day, and processes more than 5,000 textbook orders each semester.

Prior to its 2003 move into the student union, U Bookstores operated four stores on the Twin Cities campus in Minneapolis and one in St. Paul. The stores in the St. Paul Student Center and the Law School remain, but the stores in Blegen Hall on the West Bank and Williamson Hall and Moos Tower on the East Bank were consolidated into the one new space, four times larger than all three stores combined. The Coffman store, located on the ground level, occupies more than one third the square footage available on that floor--space that was once a parking garage.

The University of Minnesota Bookstores in Coffman Union is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, visit U Bookstores or call 612-625-6000.