Demise of our local bookshop

I love bookshops.

They are my favourite type of shop. I probably spend more time in bookshops than any other type though I should add that I rarely do our grocery shopping. So it was with great sadness yesterday that I visited our local bookshop knowing that it was closing down ths week. As part of a large chain which has been in trouble across the country recently, it was another victim of poor management at the top. The local shop was excellently run but the staff have suffered at the hands of those who should know better.

I guess that this is not an uncommon occurance in the bookshop world these days. Poor management aided by the growth of online shops has seen many shops close. Yes – I’m guilty of buying online too, but usually only books with which I am familiar. Nothing online can replace actually handling the physical object before deciding to buy. Sadly I guess I will have to gradually forego this simple pleasure as more and more bookshops close in the coming years.

What did I buy, I hear you ask? At 50% off I couldn’t resist Geraldine Brooks’ novel People of the book. Strangely, sadly ironic that that was the book I most wanted to buy (read a review here). Are our bookshops in danger of disappearing?

Bookshop chains in trouble

I love bookshops.

I could easily work in one but then I wouldn’t have as much time to read and write. Never mind.

Sadly, news came earlier this week that two big bookshop chains here in Australia are in financial trouble and have gone into voluntary administration. I have enjoyed many visits to both Borders and Angus and Robertson (A&R) shops over the years. A&R actually bought out the struggling Borders sometime in the last year or so. The Australian Borders chain has no financial connections with the American chain which is also in trouble. A&R is one the oldest and most respected chain bookshops in Australia with a history stretching back over 150 years. I’m not sure how this will effect the local shop in my own hometown.

Rapidly growing internet sales of books, especially to overseas giants like Amazon, have been blamed. You can read more details on the ABC website here. I must admit to buying some books online, but only shops here in Australia, and generally only those I can’t physically visit due to distance. These are usually genre specific shops. Most of my books are still bought in traditional bookshops, but I see my buying habits are changing too. I now do a large proportion of my business and bill paying online.

If these two chains o under, the effect on readers will certainly be significant. How this will impact on writers is yet to be seen.

Good reading and good writing.

How does this happen? Confessions of a book lover.

The biennial Adelaide Festival of Arts starts today. This feast of cultural events is now a well established event in South Australia, celebrating 50 years of festivals¬† this year.¬† It has maintained a world class standard for festivals since its inception. This week there have been political promises to make it an annual event – we have a state election here in 3 weeks’ time.

Writers’ Week

A very prominent and popular part of the Adelaide Festival of Arts is Writers’ Week, starting tomorrow. Several dozen leading Australian and International writers descend on Adelaide for this festival. Several large marquees are set up in the beautiful parklands and the writers are given centre stage for a whole week. Most sessions are free events for the reading and writing public, a rare thing these days. Book launches are also a prominent feature of the week, along with the announcement of a raft of awards.

Programme Guide

I plan to attend a number of sessions next week so during the week I wandered into a leading bookshop in Adelaide to buy the programme guide. The price was $7 and I thought that wouldn’t break the bank or drain the wallet too much.

How come then I come out of the bookshop with six books in a bag?

Those wonderful novels – some in hardback – were sitting there on the bargain tables quietly whispering my name and begging to be taken to a good home. I couldn’t resist.

As part of this confession, and to atone for my misdeeds, I’ll read those books over coming weeks and then review them here on this blog. It’s the least I can do.

Good reading.

Good writing.

To read more about my impressions of the Adelaide Writers’ Week click here.