25 Jan 2023

Dwindling population on campus led to Vic Books' demise

10:37 am on 25 January 2023
Vic Uni sign

Vic Books is on Victoria University's Kelburn campus. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

A dwindling population on Victoria University's Kelburn campus has led to the demise of its almost 50-year-old bookshop.

Vic Books, which opened in 1975, announced via Twitter on Tuesday it would close at the end of March.

"We know a lot of people will feel a whole lot of different things about this announcement, we're feeling them too," it said in its announcement.

It comes after Vic Books closed its Pipitea campus shop on 31 July after the twin hardships of Covid-19 and the anti-mandate occupation, which turned the capital city's CBD into a ghost town.

The news of its closure was met with shock and sadness from many who had used the bookstore as a social hub during their time at the university.

In a tweet, Booksellers Aotearoa said it was devastated by the news.

"The board, staff and membership of Booksellers NZ is devastated by the news that Vic Books is to close. They have been a fixture in the world of bookselling in Wellington for decades and have always been a committed, enthusiastic and generous member of our association."

Vic Books general manager Jessica Godfrey told Morning Report the closure had not come as a surprise to her.

In the last decade, textbooks sales had declined, Godfrey said, but the real reason for its closure was because of the dwindling population on campus.

Vic Books was a retail and hospitality operation, and without customers, it could not survive.

Changing habits due to the Covid-19 pandemic, online learning, and working from home, had all contributed.

"These are things affecting everyone in retail and hospitality."

Godfrey said it was a "real pity" as being on campus and building a community was all part of the tertiary education experience.

There was a lot of history behind Vic Books and its closure was "really sad", she said.

"It's not just a bookshop. It's textbooks, it's all the university memorabilia, and there's a wonderful café here.

"It's a very equalised environment."

Godfrey said students could be assured that textbooks were still arriving every day - and needs would be taken care of for the first semester of the year.

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