University’s bookshop set to close as study goes digital

It’s a sign of the times — the only bookshop serving one of the country’s largest universities is to close as students’ study habits go digital.

Staff at University College Cork have been told John Smith’s bookshop, which has operated from the basement of the campus’ student centre since 2003, will stop retailing books from Friday, November 21.

The news was confirmed in a staff email from UCC corporate secretary Michael Farrell.

“Like many similar bookshops across the higher education sector and despite the best efforts of everyone involved, the John Smith’s business at UCC has suffered a very significant decline in sales over recent years to a level which is now just not enough to sustain a viable commercial operation,” Mr Farrell said.

The physical bookshop is to be replaced by a dedicated online service to be set up by John Smith’s, and the store will be replaced by a showroom area where students and staff will be able to browse books with a view to buying them from the new website or from an order kiosk within the showroom. Customers will have the option of home delivery or for their books to be sent to a collection point on campus.

UCC student’s union president Mark Stanton said there has been little reaction to the news on campus.

Many students are already using Amazon and digital copies of their reading material on laptops and mobile devices, while the showroom caters for those who prefer traditional methods.

Mr Stanton said that college services are getting “smarter”, with an emphasis on using mobile devices to deliver lecture notes to students. Plans are even afoot to develop apps to help freshers find their way.

“For newcomers, UCC can be like a maze, so say you have a lecture in the Safari or Connolly building and have no idea where they are, then you can open a map on your phone, type in a course code and have a sat nav direct you to your class,” he said.

While tried and tested posters outside lecture halls remain, three quarters of first years have joined a dedicated Facebook group, and Mr Stanton said the union uses social media to keep students up to date on campus events and promotions.

“It shows that where students are getting information from is changing. If we put news up on Snapchat we find that most stories get at least four or five hundred views on them, and that can be anything from promotions to changes to the library hours,” he said.


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