Blackwell’s and the University of Portsmouth have announced the closure of the shop at the Students’ Union in Portsmouth, confirming Friday 2nd March as the last day of trading. After months of discussion between the bookshop and the University of Portsmouth, which is the shop’s landlord, both parties could not come to an agreement causing the loved bookshop to close after 15 years of service.They were unable to agree on a new premises, as the university wants to use the space for another unknown purpose. According to Blackwell’s, the closure was not specifically about rent or costs, and staff redundancies have not yet been confirmed.
“It connected the University with the wider population of Portsmouth and had a great impact on the explosion of writing and artistic talent that has happened in Portsmouth”
The discussion about a possible closure of the shop started in December last year, when shop manager Jo West declared, “We have been struggling over the past few years – as have most bookshops – and the university has been supportive to us in terms of our rent, but we know they now want to reuse the space we are in and they have not been able to provide what we think might be a viable site. It is desperately sad.” This caused people to sign a petition to save the bookshop, reaching 1,195 signatures, but it was evidently in vain.
This is lamentable as the bookshop was deeply cherished in the community and could have been of further benefit to the university. It connected the university with the wider population of Portsmouth and had a great impact on the explosion of writing and artistic talent that has happened in Portsmouth over the last five years through its book launches, sales, support, promotion of local writers and through organising talks and visits by world-renowned authors. It was only one of two dedicated retail bookshops left on the Island of Portsea.
A spokesperson for Blackwell’s confirmed the closure with the following statement: “It is with regret that University of Portsmouth and Blackwell’s Bookshop confirm the closure of the Blackwell’s campus bookshop. Blackwell’s is very grateful for the support the university has provided over the past 15 years. Blackwell’s and the University of Portsmouth continue to discuss a 365 day a year bookselling provision for students based around bookstalls and online, and are planning to maintain a presence on campus at the start of the academic year.”
Furthermore, the Blackwell’s Team wished their customers well on their Facebook page Blackwell’s Portsmouth with the following lines: “Ness, Brian & Jo would like to thank you all for the support that has been shown over many years and especially in recent months. It has been our pleasure to work among shelves full of friends – old and new; academic, comforting, challenging and frivolous – and to introduce them to customers… many of whom have themselves become great friends. It has been our privilege to encourage reading ‘For Learning, For Life’ and see lives flourish as a result. It has been wonderful to help nurture and celebrate writers, whether fledgeling or famous and witness the magic their words can conjure. Keep reading; keep learning; keep supporting local business! We wish you well and will be seeing you around”