Thursday, June 16, 2011

caution : bookseller on the warpath

Nick Sherry has given bookshops just five years before they are obsolete.

You probably saw this article, or at least heard about it.

I was enraged, along with my coworkers and the wider bookselling public. While his intention was probably not to be so blunt, and probably didn't quite mean what it sounded like he meant, he should definitely have thought a little more about it before he spoke such dismal words.

Actually, I also think our feelings are hurt. Here's the Minister for Small Businesses practically throwing in the towel for us...and all the while we're also apparently still staring down the barrel of impending ebook doom. Nick Sherry's website says: "Small business is the backbone of the Australian economy. The Australian Government provides assistance ranging from expert advice to grants to help our small businesses succeed." This is not the way to talk to your backbone!

I'm not all that confident in this minister. Not only am I suspicious he hasn't been into a bookshop lately, I also wonder about his ability to lead and advise in a changing economy and a forward-thinking world. In an interview on ABC News 24 Sherry spoke about technology and the way its development is impacting on the way small businesses are run: "It's not something that necessarily I understand in the sense that I use it a great deal, because I don't." Maybe have a look into that one, Nick.

The way we read is changing, and the way some people buy books is changing. But I don't believe real bookshops will disappear. Real bookshops with real books in them, and real people to help customers choose a new read. People like coming into a bookshop - the amount of comments I get daily...oh what a lovely shop and it's so nice to come in and get advice and you are so lucky to work in a bookshop, it's my dream... And that's the other thing: everyone wants to be Bernard Black! And though modern bookselling requires a lot more dedication and sobriety (sadly) than Bernard's version, working in a bookshop is hella fun. I don't want to not be able to do it anymore.

So maybe, dear general public, just go and have a little visit of your local bookshop this weekend. Don't let Nick Sherry's negativity put you off. Meet the staff, have a chat, poke your nose into the Design section (the frankie Spaces book is awesome), or into History (Parisians, by Graham Robb, is in paperback now), or Classics (a Nancy Mitford book would warm your winter blues) or maybe even Young Adult (this list would go on).

Go visit a bookshop today. Otherwise, we booksellers will be sad:

In associated news: The Book Depository is really fortunate because it's subsidised by the British postal service and is able to offer free postage. Lucky bastards.


  1. Go Kate! Don't hold back. Both barrels, girl.

  2. I think everyone else is too depressed to comment. I like to think a few bookshops will remain, and then they will start to become the thing again.

  3. With you all the way, Kate. High level gormlessness on the part of the minister.

  4. thank you for your comments and support, dear authors. i have sold at least one of your books this week as thanks.

    also, the customers demanded them...

    vive les bookshops!

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