Maybe Blackwells in the Portland building isn't a place you go very often - there are perfectly valid reasons for that. But I suspect none of those reasons was ever 'I find it difficult to buy books without the reassurance of a giant coffee chain nearby'. If it were though, you're in luck because the building work is finished and Costa Coffee can now be found among the books.
Why is it there?
-there are many other coffee outlets within the very same building (four come immediately to mind)
-the coffee is not remarkably better than any of those
-pricing won't be any more attractive
Which leaves two obvious reasons:
-coffee shops are known not only to drive traffic through the shop they're located in, but to directly increase sales (based among other things on the smell and the endorphins it releases)
-we can speculate there is some financial benefit for the University. (The issue of tuition fees already being far too high notwithstanding)
So now that it seems clear that Costa is not here for altruistic reasons, but for traditional capitalist reasons of increasing its own profit, this becomes a harder pill for me, and I suspect many others to swallow. Even if you suggest that the franchise arrangement benefits the University financially more than it benefits the company, and who knows if this is the case, set money aside for a minute and think about branding. Any company that can get its name and logo right into the middle of where thirty-four thousand young, open-minded students spend their time is surely onto a winner.
Perhaps a couple of major coffee shops on a University campus doesn't worry you too much. Perhaps you think it's just an irreversible part of modern life and you didn't bat an eyelid when Starbucks took over that bank on Old Market Square to be literally 10 metres away from Costa and 50 from Caffe Nero. Maybe having to ring your friend to ask which 'Costa just off Market Square' she meant (it was the one up by Barclays) isn't really an issue for you.
But Greggs have had a shop in my local hospital for several years now, and schools are mooting the idea of corporate sponsorship (Microsoft does part-run a school, thankfully only in Philadelphia for now).
Not so long ago some of us objected strongly to the arrival of Starbucks in our library, others of us welcomed it with open arms. Regardless of the usefulness of a protest against Costa Coffee in Blackwells, I'm not so sure it should be here. It's not about the quality of the coffee, or the price. I believe that some institutions, like our own University, should be about education and improvement of ourselves, and not just another corporate turf war.