Exeter, towards a city without a bookshop #likeminds #EX1to4

This post is intended for discussion, could be a basis for a chat show, and is forwarded to the Wild Show ahead of Thursday on Phonic FM 10-12. This week is #likeminds in Exeter, a social media conference. If every business is a media business maybe theree is no media as a distinct business. But there are still publishers attending.

Being specific about Exeter the main news item seems to me to be the plan by the university not to have a bookshop. The central campus is being rebuilt and will be completed next April. Blackwells will have a temp store at the beginning of each term for course books but the portacabin will not be replaced with a permament structure. The impetus for this seems to be coming from the university, not Blackwells. There have been examples of university bookshops closing because of poor trading but the Exeter branch is still thought to be viable. Maybe a bookshop is not seen as part of a modern retailing mix.

When Princesshay was updated it turned out that a post box was not regarded as part of the current look and feel. There is a Post Office now on an upper floor but there was confusion over where a post box would be. It is now inside a door on ground level so it can be found without disturbing the designed environment.

So this is a good topic for a chat show. Usually I support digital innovation but I also think that a university without a bookshop could be a step too far. I also worry about finding a new music CD. The HMV in Exeter has not much space for music and new releases seem to vanish quite quickly. Waterstones and WHSmith are part of UK chains, there is no independent bookshop.

Also I am not sure the bookshop decision has been widely discussed. It was not publicised when the plans to redevelop the campus were announced. Getting rid of the bookshop was not seen as the main reason to spend on the project.

There will be some new technology features-

Exploration Labs

There will be two, 60-seat Exploration Labs, supported by a six seat, IT-rich 'Technology' centre. One Exploration Lab will provide 60 tablet PCs using bespoke, fixed, raked seating arranged in 'Harvard' style to allow attendees to mix presented content with IT solutions. This room will also have full video conferencing facilities. The second lab will consist of 10, six person multi-touch 'surface tables' designed to support innovative, group-based teaching. Each table will also be linked to a series of wall-mounted screens to assist sharing of ideas and there will be writeable walls to aid collaboration of ideas. This provision is particularly innovative and will be a world leader in the Higher Education sector. Adoption of surface technology in the commercial sector continues to expand quickly, creating a potential for employability benefits to our students.

In the city centre there are many shops for mobile phones. HMV has replaced the CD space on the ground floor with technology devices. So something like this "Exploration Lab" might be connected to wider Exeter.

Meanwhile in Lancaster a "Learning Zone" with web access and support is on one side of the central square opposit the library and the bookshop. Waterstones has promoted the Sony Reader more at the centre of Lancaster near the HMV. On campus such devises are usually not well displayed.

Going a bit off the main topic it strikes me that both Exeter and Lancaster have management studies with an interest in leadership. This follows earlier emphasis at Lancaster on learning organisations. So how can a university learn about a bookshop or a library? Network Learning or Telematics have been introduced as subjects but I am not sure how this relates to design.

More later when I discover whaqt #likeminds is actually about. It seems to be also about video. Perhaps there could be a considered video about the bookshop in Exeter as well the series of YouTube clips I might find in the time up to April. When the bookshop closes it may be understood what else can happen.