It’s National Bookshop Day on Saturday!!
On August 20, booksellers around the country will act like little kids who have had too much red cordial, happily buzzing around with a sense of pride and elation that their stores are being recognised for being an important part of our culture and our communities.
As the owner of a bookstore, I can tell you we don’t do this for the money! All of the booksellers and owners I have come across are passionate about reading, learning, literacy and the communities they dwell in. They also tend to be a little quirky with a tendency towards OCD, but that’s another post altogether.
Jon Page of Pages & Pages Booksellers put it well when he said:
“While reading is generally a solitary activity it is also a social one. Readers love to share their thoughts on books and the books themselves with friends and family. So while we often read by ourselves we want to share our reading experience with others. The bookshop is essential to this sharing process.”
I love the conversations that I get into with customers about all sorts of different genres and writing styles. On any given day I have numerous conversations with passionate readers about what they have just read, what they will read next and what they are looking forward to. This morning alone I have:
- Helped one customer to find two books on explaining IVF to children, and where they came from.
- Chose two books as presents for a grandma visiting her grandchildren in Scotland, both Australian stories by Australian authors.
- Talked to an avid crime reader about branching out from Scandinavian Crime and trying Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson
- Sourced a book on a tricky relationship situation for a customer
- Talked to two authors about upcoming books
- Found the perfect distraction for a pirate obsessed child at home with the flu
- Discussed and sourced books for a customer doing a paper on ‘People and Place’ at university.
All of these discussions and books found for people represent the service that booksellers do all the time, because they love books. That is also why we organise book groups and events and story time for children, because reading is as essential to us as food, water and oxygen.
Booksellers also form a conduit between the author and the reader. We are very privileged to be able to meet authors and get a glimpse into why and how they write, which we then share with our customers. Occasionally we even get to have those authors in the store to meet their readers, which is always a thrill.
This is why National Bookshop Day is so exciting for us, everyone will be reminded of the place around the corner that isn’t just a store selling books, it is in fact a doorway to new worlds, new learning, an escape from the everyday or a journey, where you can meet like minded people who share the same passion for reading and get encouragement and advice to read new books.
As author of Loathing Lola, William Kostakis so eloquently put it:
“There’s more to a bookstore than simply selling books. Thanks to the RedGroup collapse, all anybody wants to talk about is the fact that bookstores are dying. Well, maybe places where they just sell books are dying, but bookstores that are active parts of the community; connecting readers with books, authors and each other… they’re thriving. There are 1000 things that bookshops like TLC can do for you that Amazon can’t, you simply have to step inside and ask.”
I look forward to wishing everyone a happy National Bookshop Day!
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Tanya Caunce for TLC Books