Today was a sad day in the history of University College Cork, as it saw the closure of the university’s bookshop. I can’t begin to describe how devastated I am on realising I can no longer wander in to browse through the treasures on the shelves, exchange a few words with the friendly folk who work there, and probably forget my umbrella because I’m so distracted at finding the perfect read to go with my cuppa.
I was going to write something to the tune of ‘given the current economic climate, it’s not surprising to see even university bookshops closing down’ and blah blah blah, because that’s what people keep saying when I moan about it, but that would be a lie. It is surprising, it’s shocking even, come on, this is a university – who ever heard of a university without a bookshop? Really? I understand that the decision to close was not up to UCC, and that there is no doubt a John Smith’s head-office somewhere which, in its wisdom, decided we didn’t actually need a bookshop – hey, we’re just a university, why would we need a bookshop?
I don’t hold with the reasoning behind the closure at all- that ‘most’ students are going online now to the likes of Amazon to source their books for the coming year, how many is ‘most’? Not everyone is prepared to do that. Some still enjoy leafing through a physical book before they make a purchase, they like to see if it’s reader-friendly, what size the font is, the chapter layout, the overall ‘feel’ of the book, if it ‘speaks’ to them. Amazon won’t go to the trouble of organizing all your first-year English books by module and wrapping them nicely together so you know you have everything you’ll need. Amazon has no comfortable red couch downstairs for you to sit and breathe in the quiet book smell, or launch into the first few pages of your latest exciting find because you just can’t wait until you get home.
Perhaps another bookseller will see this as an opportunity and come to fill the John Smith’s-shaped space left now in Aras na Mac Leinn. Let’s hope so!