What memories do you have of bookshops, and the books you bought? I’d love to hear them. Looking at the beautiful bookstores posted on Better Reading’s facebook page today, it made me reflect on what makes a great bookstore. Certainly those in the post are spectacular (and I’d love to visit them!), but what makes a bookshop special for me are not only the books and the surroundings, but the well-read staff, who curate, hand-sell through their knowledge of the books and their clients, and who have a true passion for books.
I visited eleven bookshops in Melbourne last Friday with Nicki, the wonderful sales rep from Simon and Schuster, publisher of The Lost Swimmer. Nicki has a deep love of books, which comes across in spades as she talks about them. There’s something artisanal about the way the book trade works at this level. A sales rep who loves books, talking to bookshop owners and staff who love books – who then talk to customers about the books, and find just the right ones to put into their hands. I can remember so many – probably all, really – of the bookshops where I’ve bought books over the years. At home, on holiday. At beaches annually, where the trip to the bookshop and hearing the bookseller’s recommendations is the highlight.
And here are a few photos of the wonderful booksellers of Melbourne, Nicki who introduced me to them, The Lost Swimmer in pride of place at the magnificent Readings, and a Dymocks Camberwell Book Club event where I was invited to speak. And that’s another thing – book clubs run by well-read bookstore owners. As authors, we’re so lucky to have these people.