May 20, 2020
Issue 06

Bennett’s silent closure

Massey students remain puzzled as Bennett’s Book store closes on the Wellington campus with no warning or consultation. 


Bennett’s Book store supplied the students at Massey’s Wellington campus with the stationery and material their course required. However demand fell far short of supply and Bennett’s silently closed its doors with no explanation or warning given to the student body.


MAWSA president Jacob Paterson said there was definitely still a place for an on-campus stationary/book store and students could have been better informed of Bennett’s closure. 


“I do think students could've been better informed of the reasons for closure from the university. And that there is need for an on campus stationary store. I have had several questions from students, since Bennett's closure, not knowing where to get books and stationery. It's a service that either MAWSA or the colleges could pick up I believe.”


Major shareholder of the store John Chisholm said the Wellington franchise was no longer economically viable. “If the numbers were there, and the courses were there then that would warrant a need for a physical shop. But unfortunately, due to the current situation it’s just not possible. To my knowledge, there was only one course left at the Wellington campus that was requiring and using textbooks.” 


Managing director of educational resource distribution company BookendS, Michael Win said  Massey might think it was future proofing, but it wasn’t a trend being seen elsewhere. 


“I have not seen a massive indicator that e-resources uptake has taken over. The statistics from overseas has shown that the e-book uptake has in fact plateaued and that physical books still hold the majority of the market share. The e-book revolution is stalled at a level well below everybody’s expectation. Humans are tactile beings and enjoy the feel of a book.”


Recent graduate Benji Clark said Bennett’s was essential to his studies while he was at Massey gaining his Bachelor of Communications.  “There were countless occasions where Bennett’s saved myself and other students in the stationary department. I’ll admit I didn’t purchase many text books from them, but lectures and study sessions would have been a disaster without it.” 


Bennett’s closure came shortly before Massey announced its Digital Plus initiative, which aims to move many of its courses online and remove face to face teaching.


The Digital Plus initiative has been ill-received from many of its students across the country. Win said  when it came to an educational institution drastically changing its format, it needed to be what everyone wanted. “I think for a tertiary institute to go digital depends on the students willingness to buy into it. Evolution rather than revolution. 

“They seem to want to reduce their cost base but I cannot see how reducing face-to-face teaching can be viable as education is a socially tactile experience and without the interactive environment they are limiting a student’s opportunity to learn.”