"Closed" signs like this one are going up at off-campus textbook stores around the country. (Image credit: Mike Licht)

As our nation’s economic challenges continue to have an impact on businesses in all industries, the local bookstore landscape has greatly changed in recent years. Many local college textbook stores have been hit hard and are no longer in business after having served students at large and prestigious universities several for generations.

According to RentScouter and the Gainesville Sun, the Nebraska Book Company, which owns a number of textbook outlets near college campuses around the country, recently closed seven off-campus college bookstores at major universities with large student populations. These textbook stores include:

– Florida Book Store (Gainesville, FL)

– Chattanooga Books (Chattanooga, TN)

– Madison Textbooks (Madison, WI)

– Spirit Shop (Lubbock, TX)

– Traditions Bookstore (College Station, TX)

– The College Store (Akron, OH)

– GotUsed Bookstore (Pittsburgh, PA)

More than 39 other textbook stores owned by the same company were also in jeopardy of being shut down by the end of March. This likely signals even more closures by the end of 2012.

Other off-campus textbook outlets have closed over the last year or two as well. For example, Stony Books, which had served Stony Brook University students in New York since 1979, closed its doors for the final time in late 2010.

One of the main reasons for these unfortunate closures is that more and more college students are getting their textbooks on the Internet. The number of websites offering textbooks for purchase and for rent has increased greatly in recent years. You can search for books and compare prices on many of these sites at Textbooks.org.

In addition, textbook outlets that are not owned and operated by colleges and universities do not have as much financial security. They also tend to sell more used textbooks and offer more rental options, which means their profits will typically be lower than the profits of a campus bookstore that sells more new books and may have more of a selection.

Although it is difficult to see long-standing bookstores reach their final chapters, it underscores the fact that everything changes over time. What remains the same is that the primary concern for college students is still to find the best deals on cheap textbooks or rental books. The online market has expanded enough so that students have even more choices on where to get their textbooks, even if there is only a single campus bookstore in town that offers college textbooks.