Nebraska Book Co. shutting down; 114 to lose jobs

Nebraska Book Co. shutting down; 114 to lose jobs

One of Lincoln’s oldest and most well-known businesses is shutting its doors.

Nebraska Book Co. said Monday that it is closing Wednesday, ending more than a century of providing educational materials to the country’s college students.

Jennifer Goetsch, vice president of sales and marketing, said the bulk of the company’s 114 full-time employees will be out of a job as of Wednesday, although about 30 will be retained for an additional 4-6 weeks to help liquidate the company. She said employees will not be receiving any severance.

Nebraska Book has been in business since 1915, and for decades it dominated the college textbook market, selling books at bookstores on hundreds of college campuses across the country.

But the company fell on hard times in the past couple of decades as it faced stiff competition from the internet and large booksellers such as Amazon.

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It declared bankruptcy in 2011, and then in 2015 it made a series of moves, including closing its flagship Nebraska Bookstore in downtown Lincoln, selling off its store portfolio and selling its corporate office space at 4700 S. 19th St., which it leased back.

Things seemed to be turning around in the fall of 2018, when Nebraska Book announced it was expanding its headquarters and adding 150 jobs after forming a new company that provided technology services to college bookstores and retailers and landing a new distribution deal with Follett Corp., the company to which it had sold its campus bookstores three years earlier.

COVID-19 apparently killed that rebound, however.

In an email to employees, excerpts of which Goetsch provided to the Journal Star, the company said the pandemic had done in the business.

“Unfortunately, when the pandemic forced students off campus and into using digital content, we sold through much of our inventory and have not had sufficient funds to replenish it,” the email said. “Lack of inventory is the cause of the shortfall in sales we required to maintain the business.”

The email said Nebraska Book has been close to shutting its doors several times over the past couple of years.

“Please know that if there was a viable option to keep this great company going, we would have seized it, but we simply ran out of capital and time,” the company said in the email.

Nebraska Book Co. has been majority owned by Concise Capital Management, a Miami-based financial firm, since 2020.

Officials at Concise could not be reached for comment Monday afternoon.