Salient. Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 26, No. 6. Tuesday, June 4, 1963
'Salient' Survey . . . — Students Answer Question: Is Campus Bookshop Wanted?
'Salient' Survey . . .
Students Answer Question: Is Campus Bookshop Wanted?
Peter Blizard has announced his ambition to see a bookshop on the third floor of the Student Union Building—But Only if there is Enough Support from Students.
Recently Salient sampled student opinion on the bookshop question. With a few exceptions and reservations students want a bookstall at Victoria.
Many students simply said they wanted a bookstall and would use it in preference to Whitcombe and Tombs. Others refused to take the subject seriously. But there was constructive comment.
Elizabeth Gordon, a second year student, said: "They would presumably take more care getting books. Texts are always in short supply, especially History books. Whitcombes seem to miscalculate the amount needed. Also—the University will often recommend a new textbook at the beginning of the year which is not available in the shops at the time of buying others. A shop directly involved with the University would eliminate this problem."
The main advantage would be that prices could be cut well below other retailers. Don McKenzie pays over £20 a year for books and he is working his own way through Victoria. He'd rather "put money into the University than into an outsider's pocket. It would be easier to get to and they may be able to lower the prices somewhat."
Janet McDougall, third year Arts, said: "It is time something was done about bookshops with such a monopoly that they don't seem to care whether you get the books you really want or not."
The validity of Janet's last statement was illustrated by Peter Sim: "One textbook cost me 76/6 last year. I bought a Fifth Edition. Victoria had actually said that students could use the Fourth Edition but Whitcombes said that they had none at the time and only a few Fifths left over. The Fifth Edition was over £3—the Fourth was 37/6."
Would there be sufficient patronage of the shop? Or would students still go down the hill, through habit?
Although Dennis Skeet felt Whitcombes "give a reasonable service to students," he also pointed out that "the amount of people who patronise the SCM bookstall is an indication that students would prefer to buy books up here, especially at cut prices."
Several people asked what form the shop would take. Would it be large enough to move round in and who would run it? Diane Cornish, for example, said: "I would prefer plenty of room to browse around."
About half of those questioned buy all their books at the beginning of the year. Blizard wants a professional manager for the shop but some students wonder whether there would be sufficient business to keep him occupied during the later months of the university year.
Law students were willing to support the idea although they realised that, for a start, there would be no law books available. Sweet and Maxwell's and Butterworth's have something of a monopoly and they publish many of their own.
There were many sceptics. Murray Gray said: "It's a sound scheme but I have the following reservations: It would take up a lot of room and the manager would be doing nothing for most of the year. There would probably be difficulty in obtaining books and with all these new students there'd be too many books to handle."
John Parkin was more bitter: "If there was a bookshop on the campus it would probably be the only time students came into contact with books."
Robin Bell described himself as a "Science Bursary Holder" and claimed: "The shop should be rented out by a private enterprise. Purely a matter of demand and supply. Do we have the ability to satisfy the demand? It's an opportunity for the Executive to show how progressive they really are."
The question that worries most .students is: "How will it work in Wellington when it failed at Canterbury? Several agreed with Andrew Cornwall: "A more practicable idea could be the investigation of a national student bookshop. Though this would lead to the standardisation of texts, the greater volume of sales, mainly by mail order, would reduce the basic costs considerably."
John Watson, a member of the House Committee also expressed this fear although he thought it: "a damn good idea and I'm willing to pay up to 20 per cent increase in price to buy from it, although I realise this won't be necessary."
The only real opposition to the bookshop scheme came from a bearded humorist who said his name was Tombs, and his father a director of a large bookshop near Barrett's Hotel. Therefore, he said, the concept was against his principles and nothing but anti-exploitation.—D.F.