Blackwell’s book store opens on campus

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Photo by Matthew Power

The renowned Oxford-based bookshop-chain, Blackwell’s, has opened a branch on the Lancaster University campus today in place of the recently-vacated Waterstones.

Louisa Duff, Marketing and Communications Manager for the Facilities Department, told SCAN that it is “important to stress” that the store opening will be “with limited stock.” However, Scott Hamilton, Blackwell’s Northern Regional Manager, said that the store hopes to be fully stocked in the next couple of weeks “with an opening event hot on its tail!”

As of Wednesday, January 25th contracts had been signed by parties from both Blackwell’s and the University, and there were further talks held on Friday, January 27th to discuss more detailed action plans and set an opening date in stone.

IT installation also took place on Friday, January 27th, and reading list orders have been placed on order ready to stock the shelves with students’ study necessities.

Initially, the branch will operate under a temporary, five-month contract, but both sides are hopeful that the collaboration will prove to be fruitful for students and bookstore alike, and a longer contract is hoped to be on the horizon.

Scott Hamilton, Blackwell’s Northern Regional Manager, said: “Blackwell’s are really pleased to fulfil a long-term target partnership with Lancaster University in book-selling. Even though this initial project is a short-term offering until June 2012, we hope to extend this to a more permanent model and continue to add to the student value experience.

“In that short term period we will endeavour to bring low-priced textbooks to students and departments through our ‘online price-check’ and huge savings promotions on core, recommended titles.”

Hamilton also revealed that “alongside this we are working towards a digital future with new relationships in e-media and digital content.”

According to a University press-release, during December two renowned academic book retailers, John Smith’s and Blackwell’s, gave presentations to staff and student representatives, with feedback unanimously in favour of the recommendations Blackwell’s had for a book shop on camps that would “meet the needs of students and staff.”

Furthermore, a great boon for former Lancaster student Callum Pownall, who was previously the Deputy Manager of the Waterstones campus branch, is the retention of his and other Waterstones staff members’ jobs in the new campus bookshop.

Blackwell’s prides itself on its reputation as a front-runner in the domain of specialist, academic and professional book retailers. With over forty branches nationwide, it is no coincidence that their flagship stores’ situations correspond to the locations of several educational powerhouses ranked amongst the academic elite, including Oxford, Cambridge, London Charing Cross and Edinburgh.

The original shop, opened in 1879 on Broad Street, Oxford, founded its reputation amidst the landmarks of the Sheldonian Theatre and the Bodleian Library – both icons of intellectual and cultural prowess. With the close proximity of such prestige at its roots, it is small wonder that Blackwell’s is now widely reputed as a leading academic bookseller in the UK.

Amanda Chetwynd, the Pro-Vice Chancellor for College and Student Experience, who was present at the December proceedings, has been working behind the scenes to garner student opinions through forum consultations with student representatives, as well as involving LUSU Vice-President (Academic) Alex Carlin, who was able to offer his input in place of the LUSU President George Gardiner, who was unable to attend.

Chetwynd is keen to utilise all the advantages of having a prestigious academic book retailer on campus, through involving students in events such as book-signings, readings and other interactive experiences that have so far been concurrent with Blackwell’s vision for their future enterprises.

Posters around campus have also promised a “reserve online; collect in store” service, reading-list supplies and “discounts on major textbooks.”

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