"Bookstores are my houses of worship, and I consider those who work there my spiritual guides. Getting to know the wonderful people at my local stores has been the best way of guaranteeing a steady supply of books I've loved. Travelling around the country, I find it's the same wherever I go." --Bram Presser in the Sydney Morning Herald
Last Saturday, booksellers across Australia threw a party to celebrate Love Your Bookshop Day. Customers, authors, publishers, journalists and other bookish folk said many nice things about indies and, we hope, continued to buy lots of books. According to Nielsen, in the past year Australians purchased 55 million books at a value of more than A$1.1 billion (about US$800 million), an increase on the previous year. "Despite dire predictions over the years for the approximately 600 independent bookshops across the country, they are far from disappearing," the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
"As author Mark Twain would put it, reports of the death of the local book shop have been greatly exaggerated," said Australian Booksellers Association CEO Joel Becker. "Video didn't kill the radio star, television didn't kill reading, e-books didn't kill real physical books and Amazon hasn't killed the local book store.... Australian readers still love going into a bookshop to buy books.... Whenever I see surveys about who people trust in their local community, the local bookseller is up there with the local pharmacist and newsagent as valued members of local shopping streets and centers. They are places to chat with enthusiastic, knowledgeable staff, to engage with authors and with other readers. Love Your Bookshop Day is a chance to get people who love books together on the same day, and have a party."
|At Potts Point Bookshop
Anna Low, who bought Potts Point Bookshop, Sydney, 11 years ago, said: "We've worked hard in our neighborhood to be a safe place for anyone to come in and sit and read, to create community."
Hachette Australia asked several booksellers to share reasons for loving their job. All of the responses are great, including the one from Lea Wilson of the Book Warehouse Lismore, NSW: "To be clear here, I think I have one of the best jobs in the world. We are made of stories. Books contain everything we are, everything we've been or might one day become. People who read are the luckiest people in the world and the booksellers who serve those needs are truly the keepers of the treasure."
Text Publishing asked staff members to explain "what exactly it is about our local bookshops that gets us all excited." Marketing manager Shalini Kunahlan observed: "Bookshops are more important than ever: they are cornerstones of ideas, activism and, let's face it, the perfect escape from the less enjoyable parts of being in this world. We are so, so fortunate to have a healthy and diverse Australian-owned bookshop industry. Let's build on it and keep it going, book lovers."
Because I live on the other side of the planet, I couldn't visit Aussie indies last weekend. I did, however, keep an eye on social media for #LoveYourBookshopDay posts and celebrated from afar. Among my favorite quotable moments:
Berkelouw Books, Sydney: "An 8-year-old girl, with a handbag, just asked us at our Paddington store, 'How old do you have to be to read Jane Eyre?' Charlotte Brontë just let out a 'Jane YEEEAAAA!' from the other side."
Potts Point Bookshop: "We're excited, we are ready to be loved today!"
Love Your Bookshop Day: "WOW! @artgalleryofnswshop really outdid themselves this year! Not only are the costumes incredible, the bookish word-play has left us in stitches. Amazing work!"
Abbey's Bookshop, Sydney: "Yeah baby! Our little morsels are proving a hit on #LoveYourBookshopDay."
Mad Hatters Bookshop, Brisbane: "We're pretty lucky to have so many of you wonderful people walking through our doors every day. Thank you to everyone who celebrated #LoveYourBookshopDay with us--we couldn't what we do without you!"
Collins Booksellers, Shepparton, Vic.: " 'Reading is T-Rexcellent!' We had some dino-sized help promoting #loveyourbookshopday around #Shepparton today..."
The Children's Bookshop, Sydney: "What a crazy but wonderful @loveyourbookshopday at The Children's Bookshop!"
The Younger Sun Bookshop, Yarraville: "Happy #LoveYourBookshopDay from all of us at the Younger Sun! Thank you to all the authors and illustrators who came along today to join in the celebrations.... And a big BIG thank you to everyone who popped in today to love our little bookshop, you mean the world to us."
Fairfield Books, Vict.: "We are leaving our #loveyourbookshopday window up for the week so come on down and have a look at the fabulous work by @lucindagifford who did the illustrations complete with bookish cat pun titles!!"
The summing up: "Reading often sounds like a solitary, lonely, hobby but the reality is it's anything but," said Sean Guy of the Bookshop Darwin, Northern Territory. "We might spend a few hours alone while we read a book, but then it stays with us for years--and then there's the never-ending process of discussing and recommending! Books can truly change our lives. As a bookseller, I'm honored to play this small part for so many amazing, unique people…but even aside from that, I'm just having too much fun to stop. It's the best job."