Follett was founded in 1873 in Wheaton, Illinois by Charles Barnes. Barnes opened a used bookstore, using part of his home as a business. After a few years, business improved substantially, so Barnes moved to an office in Chicago, selling new and used books, as well as stationery items. Barnes sold the company in 1917 and later founded what is known today as Barnes and Noble bookstores.
The company was sold to C.W. Follett in 1918 and he renamed it Follett Publishing Company. Today, Follett provides educational technology, textbooks, and digital content to many schools in the US, for kindergartners through high school, as well as material for public libraries. The company is focusing on text rentals, eCommerce, and digital materials.
What began as a home business has grown into a $2.7 billion, privately owned company which provides more than 5 million students with the materials they need for their education. The company employs more than 18,000 people in the US, Canada, and other countries.
Follett maintains a corporate office in Westchester, Illinois.