Saturday, 9 April 2011
There are two bookshops
closing in our major shopping mall. One is, naturally, a branch of Borders. The other is a branch of Angus & Robertson. Borders began quite well in Adelaide. It stocked many books that other bookshops did not stock. There were a lot of US based titles that Australians had never seen before. Borders was not considered to be a "cheap" bookshop but people browsed the shelves looking for something different and often found it. Possibly in the belief they had captured their customer base Borders then began slowly to stock much the same stock as any other general bookshop in Adelaide. It may have been one more reason for their downfall. The closing branch of Angus & Robertson on the other hand was never particularly well stocked. It was a long narrow shop. There were always "remainder" books at the front. The choice of books always seemed limited. I went into Borders when the stock was different and I bought books there. I still have $2.54 on a gift card which I will now never spend. The card was a gift from my brother. Like me he regrets the passing of a Borders bookshop near him. I went into the branch of Angus & Robertson as well. I did not use it as often but would sometimes seek a gift in there. Almost opposite Angus & Robertson there is a branch of Dymocks. They were once "educational" booksellers but have moved into general bookselling. They still carry a good range of books. They will order more specialist titles for people. Dymocks is remaining open for now. Dymocks may well survive because it will no longer have serious competition. Although the department stores in the mall have "book departments" they are not serious competition for a store like Dymocks. All this leaves me wondering about our local independent bookshop. I buy birthday and Christmas presents there. It has been there for about thirty years. The original owner sold it recently. She took with her a wealth of knowledge about books, bookselling, publishers, trends, book fairs, authors and all the many things it is necessary to know if you want to run a successful business. The new owner has all that to learn - and much more besides. I am already noticing small signs that our local bookshop is changing. There is a "specials" table by the front door, "3 for $20". The previous owner had nothing more than a discreet shelf of books that had not sold - and there were only ever a few of them. The selection of books has changed. There was always a small selection of more intellectual books designed to meet the reading needs of the dozen or so reading groups that meet in the area. It is slowly being replaced by books deemed to be more "popular". Perhaps. I do not know. There are fewer staff, often just one. I was asked to wait there on one occasion while the only person serving rushed to the bank. I will do that sort of thing if it means saving the bookshop. But I wonder what the future is for our local bookshop. If it goes I will miss it.