The Book Exchange in Morgantown has been supplying WVU students with books, supplies and spirit gear for over 90 years.
As WVU has only been around for 156 years, the Book Exchange has been a part of student life for a significant portion of the university’s history.
The flagship store of The Book Exchange opened in southwestern Pennsylvania in 1922, providing textbooks and souvenirs for the students of Waynesburg University. It didn’t take long for the company to put down roots in Morgantown too, taking up residence at the corner of Willey and Chestnut streets in 1932. A 1934 photograph in the collection of the West Virginia Regional History Center shows the original building, a colonial-style clapboarded structure that also housed a barber shop. That building was demolished in the 1960s and replaced with a more modern brick building. The Book Exchange was able to set up shop in the same place it had always done business.
The company, which also has a location on Patteson Drive, has been owned by a local family for almost 50 years. Like the original store in Waynesburg, a big part of The Book Exchange’s business is souvenirs. The main floor of the Willey Street location has WVU and West Virginia-themed apparel, decor and gifts. Thank goodness there is a clearance rack front and center for those of us who suffer from chronic sticker shock.
Of course, the main gig is in the title — The Book Exchange is a place where students can buy the textbooks that are required for university courses, and then recoup some of the price by selling them back to the store when final exams are over. Buybacks can be done in person, or be handled virtually through an online portal (https://buyback.bookexchangewv.com/).
Higher education has changed a lot in the last 100 years and is continuing to change at a quickening pace. There may not be as great a need for physical text books as there once was. However, the desire for blue and gold merch is likely here to stay.
EVA MURPHY is a freelance business writer for The Dominion Post. She writes a column on businesses, churches and other entities in the city. To suggestion a topic, email her at Newsroom@DominionPost.com.