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To: The University of Portsmouth and Blackwell's

Save Blackwell's Bookshop, Portsmouth.

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.


Maps © Stamen; Data © OSM and contributors, ODbL

Reasons for signing

  • A University town without a university bookshop is total nonsense! How was this allowed to happen?
  • This is the only serious bookshop left in Portsmouth. How come the university can spend money on expenses like this yet allow the bookshop to close? Professor Graham Galbraith, vice-chancellor of the University of Portsmouth, claimed £5,187.33 for flights and a four-night stay at the five-star Intercontinental Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
  • I was very sorry to hear when I went in on Saturday that this will be the last week for the shop in its current form ironic to close a great cultural resource during book fest there was a lively book launch in progress on Saturday. Hopefully something better will form for Jo Brian and the team


2017-12-23 08:49:00 +0000

Hi all,

I popped into Blackwell's yesterday afternoon as they closed down for the Christmas holidays. The good news is that the bookshop has had what Jo West calls a "stay of execution" while the University and Blackwell UK continue negotiations.

The most important thing we can do for the shop now is to support it.

There will be upcoming launches and author events in the New Year, and the best way to find out about them is to like the shop's facebook page. You can do it here:

Thanks to everyone who has signed this petition. I'm sure your involvement has contributed to the current slightly more hopeful situation.

Have a Merry Christmas and great New Year, all.


2017-12-09 09:31:28 +0000

1,000 signatures reached

2017-12-08 07:06:57 +0000

Hi again.

Well, we made national press coverage! Sure, it's with The Bookseller, a trade paper for the book trade, but the more people who take notice, the better.

You can see the article here:

Thanks everyone for your sterling work with tweeting, facebooking and generally sharing this petition. Please do keep it up. Even though I sent the petition as it stood yesterday to Blackwell's and to the University, we should keep the pressure on.

Thank you all.


2017-12-07 12:59:25 +0000

Hi all, there's an interesting and very balanced article about the closure of Blackwell's on Star and Crescent. I admit that I've been pretty annoyed by this closure, so a less strident tone might bring you up to speed without my particular spin. Thanks all for your support. Here's the link:

2017-12-04 16:33:21 +0000

We're now over 700 signatures. Thank you so much everyone. The latest news is that the University are now coming up with a line that this closure was purely a commercial decision from Blackwell UK.

That's a pretty disingenuous line, to be frank. The University reallocated the unit and then offered a vastly inferior site in which the bookshop would have struggled to make money.

Both sides need to see that there is a business here waiting to flourish, if they can only see the vast social capital that is engaged with this bookshop.

That's why your signature counts.

Please spread the link so we can get out to more people.

Thank you,

Matt Wingett.

2017-12-02 19:49:04 +0000

Great stuff! In just over a day, we've reached our first 500 signatures. Well done everyone!

2017-12-02 19:31:13 +0000

500 signatures reached

2017-12-01 17:24:54 +0000

100 signatures reached

2017-12-01 15:00:31 +0000

50 signatures reached

2017-12-01 14:02:46 +0000

25 signatures reached

2017-12-01 13:18:08 +0000

10 signatures reached