John Smith’s Bookshop in the UCC Student Centre is set to close on November 21st after a decline in revenue meant the business was no longer viable in its current form. The news of the closure of the shop, which first began training in UCC in 2003, was first made public to staff via an email on August 22nd.
Within the email members of staff were informed that after 11 years of trading the increase in online competition, along with the growth of e-books meant that John Smith’s income had dropped to a level where it could no longer sustain commercial operation.
This statement was echoed by Terry Brennan, General Manager of Student Facilities and Services, who stated that the news “did not come as a surprise” as the move towards e-media has “reduced profitability for all book retailing companies, not just John Smith’s.”
However, while the physical bookshop will cease to exist in two months time, it is to be replaced by a new online book service which will be run through the uccshop.ie website, in partnership with John Smith’s. As part of the change, the space left behind by the closure will be attached to the existing An Stad unit, while also acting as a showroom area to display the top 500 academic book titles available through the website.
Within the email, members of the UCC staff were informed that the intention going forward is to “provide an order kiosk within this showroom area and customers will have the option of home delivery or for their books to be sent to a collection point on campus.” Brennan highlighted that this new facility will seek to compete with existing companies such as Amazon by offering students the ability to still buy their books on campus, while doing so “at a cost that will be competitive with any online portals.”
In order to facilitate the move from the traditional shop to an online alternative, building works on the area will be carried out between John Smith’s closure and the start of the spring semester in January. While the final size and range of the new facilities are still being worked on, Brennan vowed to keep the student population informed of the changes.
Despite the fact that the transition may appear logical, it appears the change has been a cause for concern among a number of people informed of the plan. “We have been contacted by a number of sources laying out their concerns and comments and we are happy to take these on board,” stated Brennan. “Anyone who would like to offer comment or a question can email me and I will happily respond.”
The email to staff outlined that the decision to close John Smith’s was disappointing, while highlighting that the company and UCC had enjoyed a positive relationship since the shop opened. It concluded by stating that “both parties believe that the new trading model offers a sustainable solution, which will continue to provide students and academic staff with effective support and access to the learning materials they need.”