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Closure of on-campus book shop

August 4, 2010

The University bookshop in the Union building is to close shortly, with staff working there on notice to leave by November 2010, with closure set for 5 November.

Is a world-class service to students and staff possible in a University without its own bookshop? Can a university that is seeking to position itself as a world leader really contemplate not having an outlet for academic books on campus? Students and prospective students were repeatedly promised that economies would not result in adverse impact upon their education – so we at UCU wonder how no longer being able to access course-books on campus features in that logic?

Should we be suspicious of the timing of the decision to close the book shop – in the middle of the summer?

Staff will have major orders of textbooks for students  – this could have a major impact on teaching in the first semester.

Remarkably, the bookshop website makes no mention of the fact of its imminent closure (as at 4 August 2010). We wonder what will become of their ‘saver account’ and ‘loyalty card’; will these simply disappear or will there be refunds for savers.

They Union are still advertising the bookshop to new students in their ‘welcome day’ –

What can you do to campaign against this closure?:

Join the facebook group and leave your messages there

Sign the petition


Just a few hours after we announced the closure of the bookshop here, LUU made an announcement online:

We presume the timing to be coincidence.

LUU invite people to send comments on the closure, via their comments section.

In the statement, there is an argument presented that “we anticipate that Union Books will become loss making in the next 12 months”. This indicates that the bookshop is not yet loss-making. Meetings over the year have been presented with calculations of future earnings that have fluctuated hugely, and the accuracy of these projections is in question.

According to the same statement, the closure of the bookshop also appears to have been precipitated by the breakdown in talks to transfer the operation to Blackwells. The result of the failure to reach an agreement to students’ benefit will result in Blackwells anyway gaining the lost custom.

Some of the comments on the petition so far include:

The Union bookshop provides invaluable support for Leeds students, it ensures the books needed for their modules are available, supplies a great second hand scheme and has comfy chairs. Please leave it well alone.

This is a false economy: the loss of this service will actually increase the costs to students, staff and the university as a whole.

The mere suggestion of closing the bookshop is proposterous! MADNESS!

It is extraordinary that one of the best independent bookshops in the country, academic or otherwise, should be forced to close.

This is an embarrassment – especially as the Waterstone’s (sic) over the road is on its last legs.

Considering that all current advertisements at the Union are about how it is being made even better, it is unfathomable how the loss of the bookshop can even be contemplated.

This is an important, easily accessible source of coursebooks, and especially module-specific packs of extracts fundamental to core reading.

An academic institution cannot exist without a dedicated bookstore to serve the students and faculty, unless it wishes to lose the qualifier ‘academic’.

This is truly ridiculous. Having a university bookshop is essential when it comes to tracking down academic books, most of which have limited print runs etc.

This is an excellent bookshop: the best one in Leeds by far, and probably the best university bookshop in the country. It would be an outrage if it closed – it would not be in the interests of staff or students. Blackwells and Waterstones, who run the university bookshops in other places, are not prepared to order in the more specialist books staff need to teach and so give the students less exposure to important material putting them at a disadvantage. Bookshops are so important: there must be a way to keep it open and really acknowledge the university as just that: a university, a place of learning, not just a commercial enterprise.

This is an unexpected and irresponsible decision… I am embarrassed to attend a university without a bookshop.

I can’t believe that they’re even contemplating this. My undergraduate degree was French and music – do they know how hard it is to find MFL texts in the target language and at a reasonable price? The union bookshop not only makes our lives an awful lot easier – it’s generally cheaper than the other alternatives in town! Then there’s the fact that it also gives our Uni a little something extra – many other major universities do not have this resource!

Union books is a valuable part of the LUU and it’s loss and replacement with more meeting rooms would be a detriment to all students at the university of leeds. Although there are other bookshops in the area, Union books exists especially for the students and staff here – I don’t think this service is replicable by Blackwells.

Closing the Union bookshop is already a PR disaster for this University. Once term-time arrives it will become a pedagogical disaster. The world’s top 50 universities have their own bookshops. We MUST retain the bookshop!

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