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September 20, 2010

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Students and professors lobby for tiny bookstore

A GROUP of professors, teachers and doctoral students at East China Normal University have signed a petition to prevent a small bookstore from being closed by the school.

In the petition, about 30 professors and students expressed regret at the school's decision to close Daxia Bookstore, saying it had played an important role as it offered a great collection of classic and recent academic books.

"The little bookstore is quite rare to see around the university in Minhang District and it has become the small 'garden of knowledge' to students and teachers," the petition said.

"There are many other small shops at the school and we wonder why the bookstore is the only one to be closed."

Despite the petition, university officials said the bookstore would still be closed. School officials said the bookstore's contract expired on August 31.

An official surnamed Xie told Shanghai Daily that the university didn't renew the bookstore's contract because they plan to replace it with a much bigger bookstore.

"We are now contacting several bookstore chains, which will surely offer better services," Xie said.

But the professors and students said they feared the new store will not contain the great collection of academic books.

Zhou Jian, 30, owner of Daxia Bookstore, said he felt helpless about the decision. He opened the shop eight years ago.

"It's impossible for me to rent a shop outside the school," Zhou said. "The rent is more than the profits I could make."

But he didn't blame the university, he said he believes its the online book stores, which often sell books at much cheaper prices, that had crushed his business.

He started selling books at age 22 and initially his business thrived as he opened up three shops at universities. But he said the business declined in 2006, when online book selling became popular.


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