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April 24, 2019

Petition, protesters call for University of Pennsylvania to keep independent Penn Book Center in business

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0409_PennBookCenter Penn Book Center/Google Maps

Penn Book Center, one of the city's oldest indie book stores, is closing in May.

News that the independently-run Penn Book Center would close after 57 years in business on 34th Street near the University of Pennsylvania didn't go over so well.

The shop's owners announced on April 9 that online retailers have made selling books in a brick-and-mortar store increasingly difficult — as a result they would permanently close the shop's doors in late May.

RELATED: Penn Book Center closing in May after 57 years on 34th Street

The news circulated through the literary community, becoming something of a battle cry; as the Penn Book Center is one of the last of its kind in the Philadelphia, a hub where writers and readers joined for dozens of literary events annually. 

Since the announcement, protesters and petitions have asked for the University of Pennsylvania to step in and save the store.

After the shop's owners said they are open to offers to sell the store, community members asked Penn and university president Amy Gutman to intercede and create an effective business model that will sustain the Penn Book Center. 

This week, more than two dozen people gathered for a demonstration on campus in support of the university's involvement in sustaining PBC. Protestors held signs like, "Amazon Kills, read locally." 

A petition was created after the announcement, too, asking for the university to "find a way to help sustain this small but vital corner of our campus." As of Wednesday, more than 4,500 people had signed it.

"This closure would mean an immeasurable loss to Penn’s intellectual community and to that of the surrounding University City neighborhood," the petition states.

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