Tell us the origin story of your bookshop

Farrells Bookshop was started over 40 years ago by Liz & Roy Farrell. They operated the business for the first 20 years, after which it changed hands to Ian & Meredith Horton, who are still the current owners. It has had two locations in Main Street Mornington, and is now centrally located in the centre of town.

What's your favourite bookselling memory?

It would probably have to be with the release of the final Harry Potter book. Our shop ran a promotion with Mornington Railway, who run a regular Sunday steam train service. We hired the train for a special Hogwarts run. Many of our customers came dressed in costume, collected their new book, and boarded the train for a short train ride.  For those of us back in the shop, we were all dressed in character. There was a definite buzz on the day, and a great sense of excitement, for young and for old.

What do you tell people (or wish you could tell people) who say bookselling is a dying industry?

I think the media is quick to give negative press, when it comes to the future of bookshops. My answer is that yes, there were some problems with some big chain stores a few years ago, but that was an operational issue, not a reflection of our industry. Many good independent bookshops are still going strong, and we have many Victorian examples of leading stores like Readings, Avenue & Robinsons Bookshop readily expanding. There seems to be a marked increase in the publication of good quality literary Australian titles, which further emphasises the strength of our market and the demand for booksellers and physical stores to still exist.

What books make you happiest to see people buying?

Well of course the obvious answer is EVERY book that we have in our shop. We try very hard to curate the best collection to suit our community, so it is heartening to see our choices being selected for purchase. On a personal level, I enjoy seeing the books which our staff have read and we tend to handsell.. the books that don’t start off on the bestseller list, but do well via word of mouth. One in particular was Tin man by Sarah Winman. I think I read this in a day, and had to instantly share it with other staff. It was so gentle and touching, and pulled at the heartstrings.

What are you reading right now?

I always have many books on the go. I am currently reading:

Oliver Kitteridge – Elizabeth Strout

Overstory – Richard Power

The Islamic Republic of Australia – Sami Shah

Three Women – Lisa Taddeo

Educated – Tara Westover

 

-- Recommendation challenge --

Feel free to choose one recommendation challenge from below to answer:

Someone needs a birthday present for their dad who is visiting tomorrow from the country and who they haven’t seen in years. They talk on the phone occasionally about how bizarre AusPol is and about how things were different in the 80’s. What would you recommend?

Hands down, I would recommend Land before Avocado by Richard Glover. It is a humorous reflection of life in 1970’s Australia. As a child of the 1970’s it bought up so much nostalgia, yet managed to convey the message that as good as life seemed then, we are living in better times now.

 

Head down to Farrells on Love Your Bookshop Day to meet Suzie and the other wonderful booksellers there!

Click here for more information about their graffiti window, sausage sizzle, face painting for the kids (11am-1pm), 'win the window' competition, double loyalty program points, micro-story competition and lots more.

 

Tell us the origin story of your bookshop

Better Read Than Dead has been the cornerstone of the Newtown community for 23 years. Our shop is a literary landmark that nourishes the neighbourhood’s intellectual dynamics with a specially curated collection of books, as well as regular author and community events.

What's your favourite bookselling memory?

Bookselling at the Sydney Opera House for Yotam Ottolenghi’s Simple is pretty up there! Our team had a crowd of over 2000. A wild and wonderful experience through and through, from being ushered through the labyrinthine caverns beneath the building, to setting up in that exquisite harbour foyer, to finally meeting the man himself, who is every bit as warm and charming as you’d expect.

While that stands out for its uniqueness, I honestly feel like my best memories come out of the discussions at the book clubs I facilitate. One is a queer reading group, the other a poetry reading group which is co-moderated with my friend and colleague Emma Rose from Unspoken Words Storytelling. Reading out passages of Emily Wilson’s recent translation of The Odyssey together, or discussing the pleasure and privilege of reading Audre Lorde’s extraordinary memoir, are experiences I’ll be carrying with me far into the future. It’s a total joy to share that space with the broader Newtown community.

What do you tell people (or wish you could tell people) who say bookselling is a dying industry?

Come in! Drop by and see how vibrant bookselling is! Australia is rife with extraordinary independent bookshops run by passionate and knowledgeable booksellers, and I think part of the success of these businesses derives from their community engagement: book clubs, discussions, launches, panels, high teas, personal recommendations…these are things that the online retailers of the world find it extremely difficult to emulate. The tangible, personal connections that you form with brick-and-mortar bookshops and their staff are irreplaceable and vital.  

What books make you happiest to see people buying?

Audre Lorde’s Zami, A New Spelling of My Name, Maggie Nelson’s Bluets, Alexander Chee’s How To Write an Autobiographical Novel, Anne Carson’s Autobiography of Red, Rachel Cusk’s Transit (I always assume this means they adored the first in the series, Outline, as much as I did!). The list could go on and on, however. I need to get a new bookshelf!

What are you reading right now?

Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous. Language fails me – a sublime and unmissable reading experience. His poetry, especially Night Sky With Exit Wounds, is likewise a must-read. Heart-rending and mesmerising.

 

-- Recommendation Challenge --

Feel free to choose one recommendation challenge from below to answer:

Someone needs a present for a baby shower. The parents have asked for beautiful Australian picture books that baby can keep forever. What would you recommend?

Bruce Pascoe’s Young Dark Emu. Timely, extraordinary, and it’s a gift that will keep giving and giving. I have such fond memories of some of Jeannie Baker’s picture books too, particularly Where the Forest Meets the Sea and Window; visual storytelling at its best, with arresting and moving imagery.

 

Head to Better Read Than Dead on Love Your Bookshop Day to meet Zak and the other bookseller heroes in the shop!

While you're there, make sure you stick around for storytime for kids aged 3-5 (but all are welcome!), Literary Trivia night to win a book pack worth over $150 and beer, wine and refreshments where 20% of proceeds go to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.

Click here for more information.

Deb_Force_from_The_Sun_Bookshop.jpg

 

Tell us the origin story of your bookshop

I had never worked in a bookshop but was a massive reader. My friend and I saw the shop for lease. Decided we should open a bookshop. Borrowed money from the bank and 2 months later opened the doors, once we had discovered how to order the books.

 

What's your favourite bookselling memory?

There are so many. Probably finding the great people who make The Sun Bookshop and The Younger sun what they are.

 

What do you tell people (or wish you could tell people) who say bookselling is a dying industry?

What are You? Crazy!

 

What books make you happiest to see people buying?

Any books at all. But especially Australian titles.

 

What are you reading right now?

Silver the new Chris Hammer.  Next is The Eighth Life by Nino Haratischvili

 

-- Reading Recommendation --

Someone comes in looking for a present for their sister who works in a bookshop. She loves to read everything and anything but has a million books already. What would you recommend?

A New and Fabulous Cookbook or M’am Darling by Craig Brown  (I do not think many people bought this hilarious book) Or how about a Gift Voucher.

 

You can say hello to Deb and all the other Bookseller Heroes at The Sun Bookshop on Love Your Bookshop Day. But you won't catch them behind the counter! Instead, your books will be scanned by the people who make them - the publishers will be your booksellers for the day. 

Click here for more information.

Tell us the origin story of your bookshop:

The Bookshop Darwin has existed in some form in Darwin City for several decades, but we have flourished since becoming independent. Previously a chain store, our focus is now completely on supporting local and being part of the community. These ideals are reflected in our new location with a shop front in Smith Street Mall – just a stone’s throw away from the esplanade and Darwin Harbour, and other great attractions like Crocodylus Cove and the wave pool.

What's your favourite bookselling memory?

Having worked here for almost eight years, I have too many incredible memories to choose from at the Bookshop, but some of my favourites are our book launches. The atmosphere of having 80-100 people in our shop enjoying some wine and nibbles, chatting about their love of reading and making new friends while an author signs copies of a brand new book, and knowing that we helped make the event happen, is just the best feeling. I wish I could bottle it!

What do you tell people (or wish you could tell people) who say bookselling is a dying industry?

Bookselling is not a dying industry, it’s evolving. We understand that there can be some benefits to reading electronic copies of books, or ordering from big online companies, and we have to adapt to this new reality and find our place in the world. But the feedback we are getting from our dedicated, loyal, growing customer-base is that visiting a bookshop to discuss books with real people and browse our range is a great way to spend an afternoon. We are constantly surprising them with author events and new products, and we cement our place in the community by bringing authors to schools and libraries, and working with local arts groups.

What books make you happiest to see people buying?

I would be lying if I didn’t say I’m thrilled when people buy my book, “Malediction: The Cursed Play”. But I think I get most excited when I see people buying my favourite books, whether this is the “Artemis Fowl” series that gave me so many laughs as a teenager, or Joe Abercrombie’s grim dark fantasy series that I rapidly devour. Or even the time-proven classics, like “American Gods”, “To Kill a Mockingbird”, and “Of Mice and Men”, which I have read multiple times.

What are you reading right now?

I am currently reading “Rebecca” by Daphne Du Maurier, which is widely regarded as one of the greatest novels of all time. It’s living up to the praise, an enchanting gothic novel of large estates and haunting memories.

-- Reading Recommendation --

 

Someone needs to get a present for their godson who is 8 years old, or is he 11 years old? They can’t remember. He doesn’t really like to read but he read a fantasy book once all the way through. What would you recommend?


This is a fun age to be for young boys, there are so many books I could suggest! The Percy Jackson and Skulduggery Pleasant series are both fun, fantasy adventure novels that have never failed to capture the interest of boys and girls when I recommend them. But I think Deltora Quest is another suggestion that gets overlooked a lot now. It’s a little bit older, but the fantasy adventure is enthralling, every bit as good as Lord of the Rings for a younger audience. And there are many mysteries and clues to keep readers of all ages on the edge of their seat.

 

Meet Sean and the other Bookseller Heros at The Bookshop Darwin on August 10th!

To celebrate Love Your Bookshop Day, they will be hosting storytime by authors with plenty of colouring in pages for the kids. Make sure you also come in for snacks throughout the day and a free tote bag with purchases.

Click here for more information.

Thank you to Cassandra Cassandra Willis (Book Buyer and Wholesale Administrator) and Holly Bennett (Online Shop Administrator + events, social media) for their answers!

 

Tell us the origin story of your bookshop

The people of New South Wales had a passion for art, and the Art Gallery of NSW had its first public exhibition in 1874. It turned out the people of NSW also had a passion for art education, artistic reproductions, and excellently-priced museum souvenirs, so the Gallery Shop evolved from a kiosk window, to a small gift store, to a cultural retailer with an extensive book range and multiple pop-up exhibition shops every year. All of the proceeds from the Shop support the Gallery financially, and we’re also crucial to the Gallery’s publishing division with our wholesale operations. Our events program hosts book launches, artist and author talks, an arts-loving book club, museum sector celebrations, and the creatively costumed extravaganza that is Love Your Bookshop Day.

 

4 Gallery Shop AGNSW Photo by Cassandra Willis 2017.jpg

 

What's your favourite bookselling memory? 

Cassandra:

There would come a certain time every year when an art teacher would visit our store with a list of her students’ Year 12 end of year major works, looking for appropriate books to support them. We’d always chat about the books, and her students’ projects, and it turned out she was always buying the books with her own money to make sure her students had the best chance of doing well.

 

Holly:

Being absolutely schooled in literary truth by a 9-year old. I was trying to reassure her that her choice – a fairly high-concept novel from the general adult fiction section – was a good one, by saying “It’s a bit hard to figure out what’s going on at the beginning, but it all comes together and makes sense at the end.”

She listened patiently, looked me dead in the eyes and said “So… like most books, then.”

 

What do you tell people (or wish you could tell people) who say bookselling is a dying industry?

Holly:

Stories never go out of style. The delivery technology can change the way people tell and receive them, but on our end, we see more people than ever who want to connect and engage with stories (and pictures!), and then share their own experiences with others. Our customers are the kind of people who have MULTIPLE favourite bookshops – this has us feeling pretty inspired about the future of the bookselling industry.

Cassandra:

I let them know the statistics that show people remember the content better from reading a physical book much more than when they’re reading digitally, so the book will never die out!

 

1 Gallery Shop AGNSW Photo by Felicity Jenkins.jpg

 

What books make you happiest to see people buying?

Cassandra:

Specialty publications I’ve found at book fairs that may not have any other Australian supplier, where I’ve met the author and know how much it means to them to have an audience for their book. It’s always fantastic to see how well the Gallery’s own publications are received, and see the rising interest in books on Australian and Indigenous artists. I love selling children’s books that encourage creativity and experimentation, and beautifully illustrated kids’ books - and of course, our staff picks and our Art Gallery Book Club choices.

 

What are you reading right now?

Holly:

We’re reading a host of Australian art world fiction to try to narrow down our next Art Gallery Book Club pick. So far this has included ‘Painting in the Shadows’ by Katherine Kovacic, ‘Hare’s Fur’ by Trevor Shearston, ‘Where the Trees Were’ by Inga Simpson, and ‘The Biographer’s Lover’ by Ruby J Murray. We try to tie our Book Club reads to the Gallery’s exhibition schedule, and with the Archibald Prize coming up, a behind-the-scenes art tale could be a real winner.

6 Art Gallery Book Club Photo by Mim Stirling.jpg

 

-- Recommendation Challenge --

Someone comes in looking for a present for their sister who works in a bookshop. She loves to read everything and anything but has a million books already. What would you recommend?


Cassandra:

I would recommend a gift certificate to the Gallery Shop, because there’s nothing booksellers love more than visiting other bookshops!

 

Bookselling is in the blood at Sequel Books. Sequel has been supplying books to schools, libraries & the general public in Queensland since 1996, but they have been pillars of the bookselling community in QLD and all of Australia since 1907.

Dan Ferrett, the current General Manager of Sequel, says “Growing up, we knew nothing else but the book industry as a family.”

harking back to his great grandfather George Herbert Barker, or GH as he was known to family, who started the bookselling tradition by working at Angus & Robertson out of school in Sydney, 1897. In 1907, at the suggestion that GH should open his own bookshop, he sailed to Brisbane and started Barker’s Book Store with some cases of second-hand books and a loan from a friend.

Barker’s outgrew its space on Albert Street, particularly due to its student customers, and moved to Adelaide Street and then Edward Street.

Barkers Bookshop newspaper ad
Barkers Bookshop newspaper ad

GH was a founding member of the Queensland Booksellers Association and the Australian Booksellers Association. He was even an ABA President from 1949-51 and helped Australian booksellers negotiate terms with Britain.

In 1954 GH retired and left the running of the bookstore to his son, George Edward Barker.

Dan’s father David George Ferrett, George Edward Barker’s son, has been a bookseller for 60 years this year. He started working at Barker’s Book Store when he was 15 years old and stayed on when it was sold to Angus & Robinson in 1973.

Dan tells us, “After about 6 months it became very apparent that the educational division of the old Barkers was not of interest to A&R and was not being looked after. With this my father and George [his father] along with an industry colleague, Charles Conlan, started Barker, Conlan & Ferrett (BCF) in 1974.

David Ferrett - Charles Conlan - George Barker - BCF
David Ferrett - Charles Conlan - George Barker - BCF

“BCF operated until closing in early 1996, during it’s time BCF had warehouses and offices in West End, with retail stores in Elizabeth Street and then Edward Street, Brisbane, Rockhampton and Townsville.”

BCF was a true pillar of the QLD bookselling community, and eventually to the industry as a whole when they founded Moreton Bay Publishing, which was later purchased by Nelson.

In 1996, after the closure of BCF, David Ferrett, his father George Edward Barker and a handful of loyal employees and friends started Sequel.

“Sequel was the second instalment for Dad and being in the book game thought it was quite an apt name. Sequel started in the shed of a family friends plumbing business and then moved to West End and we are now based in Moorooka.”

Dan remembers bookselling as a large part of his growing up, from his father working the back-to-school rush as all educational booksellers do, to working in the stores from a young age.

“I am one of six children and we have all at some time or another worked at either BCF or Sequel. I actually started working for dad at BCF in my school holidays when I was 13 for pocket money, along with my two older brothers. All through secondary school all of us and our mates from school would work at BCF during the Christmas holidays.”

But Dan wasn’t given any special family privileges, “I was even sacked by dad when I was 18 for not pulling my weight. In fact, I think my brothers might have been sacked also, probably about the same age and for the same reason… must have been ‘bigger than our own boots’ just-leaving-school attitude.”

After this, bookselling wasn’t on the cards for Dan, “until in 2005 when working and living in the UK, Dad and I had a phone call one day and a couple of months later I was back in OZ at Sequel.” Dan has been at Sequel ever since, it will be 14 years this year.

The bookshop today supplies to over 300 schools around Queensland with new release and backlist library books, primary & secondary textbooks and educational supplies. They have 10 staff but at the back to school rush, there are up to 50 casual staff from school students, university students and friends and family. Through it all, Sequel is still the family business it always was.

Sequel's warehouse today
Sequel Books warehouse today

“Sequel has a strong family base with Dad still coming in everyday, myself as General Manager, my younger brother Tom is one of our Sales Rep’s visiting schools in SE Qld and my younger sister Anna works in our office and retail shop, taking care of all social media and marketing and looking after our retail shop.

“As with any small family business, we have to make sure we adapt, change and grow with what our customers are telling us. We need to ensure we stay in touch with the needs of the market and continue the strong publisher relationships we have that have been developed by David over his many years in the industry.”

“We noticed about 5 or 6 years ago an increase in purchases of digital format books and thought it could have been the start of the eBooks take over from physical books, however it was just a new market for us and another book to sell. eBooks have their place in the market, but will never replace the actual book… books still very much have a place in the industry and book community.”

“We deal with librarians all over QLD and the majority of them would say they love nothing more than the feel and smell of a new release novel or textbook.”

Sequel has remained a cornerstone of school and library supply for 23 years now. Throughout all the changes and challenges, floods and moves, name changes and generation changes, the family have passed down their love for books and education for many years, and many more to come.

Feeling guilty for buying yet another new book?

Toss those feelings aside because here are the reasons why shopping at your favourite bookshop is for the greater good. 

1. You Keep Dollars in the Community

When you shop at your local bookshop, the money you spend stays in the community, benefiting other local businesses, schools and hospitals.

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