1,000 signatures reached
To: The University of Portsmouth and Blackwell's
Save Blackwell's Bookshop, Portsmouth.
We call upon the University of Portsmouth (UoP) and Blackwell UK to reconsider their joint decision to close Blackwell's Bookshop, Portsmouth, resolve the impasse they have reached and to get behind it so it can continue to build on its role as a community hub and a powerful ambassador for the University and for Blackwell UK.
We believe that with good will and the right vision, Blackwell's Bookshop, Portsmouth, will be a successful and thriving enterprise. We want to see UoP help expand and strengthen the bookshop's current role as a hub for creative and academic talent, that supports new and creative thinking.
We also want to see Blackwell's Bookshop, Portsmouth continue to grow its important work connecting the University with the wider population in Portsmouth, supporting community outreach events organised by the University and others, as it has done for many years.
We want UoP to recognise the asset to the University and the city of Portsmouth that Blackwell's Bookshop, Portsmouth represents, and for both UoP and Blackwell's to recognise its potential, and use new and innovative thinking while working with interested parties to extend its highly valued role and make it a profitable venture.
We ask the University of Portsmouth and Blackwell's not to bring an end to a deeply cherished community asset that can be of profit to the University. There is much social capital invested in this bookshop, and we want UoP to use it to help secure Blackwell's bookshop's long-term future both as a viable business and a resource for the people of Portsmouth.
We want the University of Portsmouth and Blackwell's to partner with interested parties in finding imaginative solutions to help this business realise its full potential.
In short, we want the University of Portsmouth and Blackwell's UK to put aside their differences and save Blackwell's Bookshop, Portsmouth from closure and show support for its important work.
Why is this important?
1) Blackwell's bookshop is one of only two dedicated retail bookshops left on the island of Portsea. It has played an integral part in the extraordinary explosion in writing and artistic talent that has happened in Portsmouth over the last five years. Under the guiding hand of Jo West, it has helped writers find their voices and confidence through book launches, sales and support, promotion of local writers and the organising of talks and visits by world-renowned authors.
The last few years have seen the bookshop organise and host author visits from Cressida Cowell (How To Tame Your Dragon), Matt Haig (Reasons To Stay Alive), and Damian Barr (Maggie and Me), among others. Blackwell's has supported visits from crime writer Val McDermid, internationally acclaimed author Neil Gaiman and actor Simon Callow. It has also supported with book sales appearances by Michael Portillo, Jim Al Khalili (Radio 4), Jenny Murray (Radio 4), Monty Don and Jodi Piccoult, among many other names.
As such, it has assiduously supported and promoted literacy and writing in Portsmouth. The large writing community in Portsmouth is deeply appreciative of the bookshop's efforts, as are many in the wider Portsmouth community.
2) Academics from the University of Portsmouth produce books on a regular basis. These are stocked by Blackwell's, Portsmouth. If the University wants to support academic research as well as the careers of those it employs and wants to make research easily available to its students, then closing its bookshop where these academics' work is available will undermine those objectives.
3) As a business, the University of Portsmouth is always seeking to enhance and improve its offer to its students. Closing the bookshop will reduce the University's offer and harm its reputation.
4) The wider community far beyond the University is served by Blackwell's. People from the city and beyond have attended book launches at the shop who had never attended book launches before. Many local children attended the Cressida Cowell event. The shop is thus a gateway for interaction between the University and the city, with an emphasis on literacy. It is a community asset in a city which has a low literacy level.
We believe the bookshop is undervalued and with the right support could not only continue, but increase its vital work in the wider community, becoming an even greater hub for creativity, academic thinking and literacy whilst also increasing its profit margin. It simply needs imagination and the will to make it happen.
We want you to reconsider your decision to close the bookshop and instead to support it in a new and expanded role that we believe will bring great benefits to the University, make profits for Blackwell's and enrich the city of Portsmouth.
We want to help you to make that happen.
How it will be delivered
I intend to deliver the signatures to both Blackwell's and the University.