Lecturers posting notes online "harming" bookshops

Lecturers posting notes online "harming" bookshops

University lecturers posting course notes online are "harming" academic booksellers, and the posts can also deter students from reading around the subject, the chairman of the Booksellers Association's Academic, Professional & Specialist Bookselling Group (APSBG) group has said.

Iain Finlayson's remarks were made after it was revealed that The Bookshop at Queen's, which serves students at the Queen's University Belfast, will close after 53 years of trading, citing online sharing of notes as one of the reasons for its financial demise.

Tim Smyth, manager of the Queen's bookshop, said the bookseller wanted to close before it "fell below the line". He also blamed internet competition and free sites such as Google Scholar and Wikipedia for a decline in custom. He said: "I don't know how [independent booksellers] can do it anymore. Certainly the academic model has reached a tipping point now: it is unsustainable."

When asked about the trend of university lecturers posting course notes online, Finlayson, manager of Blackwell in Manchester, said: "Anybody who works in academic bookselling would be extremely concerned if the material in textbooks is posted elsewhere for free. Lecturers posting notes online is harmful for us and I believe it discourages students from reading around their subject area. I would discourage it. It is certainly not helping book sales, but lecturers might think differently."

Finlayson added that rather than having a national APSBG campaign to lobby the government to ring-fence a portion of students' bursary money to spend on academic books, many booksellers were broaching the subject on a one-to-one basis with their local universities.