On January 19, McGill held an open forum to collect community input to help shape the vision for the new McGill bookstore. The bookstore will be relocating in 2016.
when its current location is taken over by the Desautels Faculty of Management. However, the new location, or whether the store will even exist outside of the internet, has yet to be determined.
About twenty people attended the forum, very few of whom were students. Attendees spouted a range of ideas for the new McGill bookstore including a lounge and cafe, or multiple kiosks and pop-up stores around campus.
Sales at the McGill bookstore have declined by 16.8 per cent since 2008. According to consultant Bianca Barbucci, this is not a McGill-specific problem.
“Across Canada there’s a decline in textbooks and course materials overall. […] There’s more competition, and there are a lot of new digital materials that are available. People find their solutions elsewhere; they copy, or download,” said Barbucci at the forum. “It’s the same situation with music.”
The only sales category that has been increasing since 2008 is “Clothing and Insignia,” though at a rate of only of 2.8 per cent annually. For some students, this did not reflect the purpose of the bookstore that was most relevant to them.
“Some students mentioned that they felt that the store was existing for the sole purpose of tourism,” McGill Senior Campus Planner Paul Guenther said, relaying the opinions of students from an earlier focus group. “There’s definitely different perceptions on who the merchandise is for.”
One student in attendance questioned the ethics behind the apparel sold at the bookstore.
“I know the McGill athletic store allows the suppliers [of branded clothing] to use sweatshops. I was wondering […] about the suppliers at the McGill bookstore, and if they’re the same ones,” the student inquired.
The stores’ merchandise comes from a variety of locations – however, both stores obtain some products from Adidas, which has faced multiple sweatshop controversies over the past few years.
McGill will continue the consultation process on the bookstore move, which has also included focus groups and an online survey, in the coming months.