1 May 2017 Susannah

A Wall of Promise and Treasures

Muirs Bookshop in Gisborne, N.Z. (by kind permission of the owner, Kim)

“Where is human nature so weak as in the book store?” asked Henry Ward Beecher (preacher, religious writer and brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe). He’s quite right. No matter how strong the resolution not to buy more books until the pile by the bed is drastically reduced, somehow I find it very hard to leave a bookshop without making a purchase.

Book shops are just the most wonderful shops in the world. The minute I enter one, I feel a sense of belonging, calm and anticipation. I love the smell, I love the sight of all those books on shelves just waiting to be bought and read – what untold hours of pleasure they will bring to thousands of people. But mostly I love the sense of discovery. If you shop for books on-line (and yes, I know books are cheaper that way, and they are delivered to your door) you do not have nearly the same chance of discovering some book you know you just have to read. You do not as quickly and efficiently get a sense of what new books are out, what fashions there are in cover design or what new themes are in vogue. No on-line book buying will bring the same tactile pleasure and serendipitous discoveries.

Stacking Up and Defying Time by Susana Fernandez.

Stacking Up and Defying Time by Susana Fernandez.

While many people are now finding a good balance between e-readers and physical books, our fabulous book shops are struggling. I do some on-line shopping, but try to make sure that at least two thirds of the books I buy are from bookshops. I always arrange to meet friends in a bookshop – if the friend is late, I am happily browsing as I wait. I give talks in book shops to encourage people to buy, and when overseas I find the best way to learn about a region is to visit a bookshop and see what ‘local authors’ are being promoted there.

Do you have a favourite bookshop? I love Abbey’s in Sydney, Muirs in Gisborne (N.Z.), Hatchards and Jarndyce’s in London, Heffers in Cambridge, Blackwell’s in Oxford, and any book shop that is kind enough to stock and sell my books. Book shops can also be places of great beauty and history. Have a look at some of these: 10 of the Worlds Most Beautiful Bookshops and these: 30 Most Beautiful Bookshops Around The World And this month how about visiting your local bookshop and making a purchase. We need to keep these incredible institutions in business!

Let me know what you think, and if you have a favourite bookshop? Tell me why you think it is so special in the comment area below.

  Susannah Fullerton Books versus e-readers

 

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Featured image credit- Muirs Bookshop in Gisborne, N.Z. (by kind permission of the owner, Kim) http://www.muirsbookshop.co.nz/
Body image credit- Stacking Up and Defying Time by Susana Fernandez. https://www.flickr.com/photos/susivinh/7019888809

Comments (10)

  1. Zorica

    Dear Susannah
    Thank you for your newsletter- my favourite bookshops in Sydney are Gleebooks – both new and second hand shops – the staff are very helpful and knowledgeable; Abbey’s – a wide range and helpful staff; and Kinokuniya – a wide range of books and all the other stationary “stuff”. In Paris of course Shakespeare and company, and everywhere the art galleries stores that have book sections.
    I’m definitely going to design our next overseas trip around the 30 most beautiful bookshops of the world!

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Yes, all wonderful bookshops. I should go to Gleebooks more often, but parking can be hard there. Wouldn’t an overseas trip based around fabulous bookshops be fun. I always visit Shakespeare & Co when I am in Paris, but my only complaint is that it can get so crowded with tourists that it can be hard to see the books.

  2. My favourite bookshop is definitely Berkelouw’s’ Book Barn in Berrima. They also have two fine restaurants plus cafe which is managed by the Bendooley Wine Estate. The main restaurant is situated right in the book barn so you are surrounded by a magnificent assortment of books to browse through while waiting for your scrumptious meal. Absolutely delightful setting and my favourite place to dine.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      When my kids were young I used to bribe them to give me 20 minutes inside the Book Barn. They played outside and I enjoyed some precious minutes of book browsing.

  3. Heather Grant

    My favourite bookshop has to be Berkeouw’s Book Barn in Berrima which also boasts two restaurants and cafe managed by Bendooley Wine Estate. The Bendooley Bar & Grill is situated within the book barn so one is able to browse through the book shelves while waiting for one’s meal. I always com home with at least two books!!

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Yes, that Book Barn is wonderful, especially on a winter’s day when they have the fire going. Impossible to leave without buying something.

  4. Karen Booth

    My favourite bookshop in Sydney is Abbeys Bookshop. The staff are friendly, knowledgable and always helpful and the best Crime fiction selection anywhere. My second favourite is The Bookshop in Darlinghurst. Once again friendly and helpful staff and an excellent source for gay crime and an eclectic choice of biographies (Eleanor Roosevelt to Doris Day).

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Yes, Abbeys is fabulous. I was there for a friend’s book launch a few days ago. What I especially love about Abbeys is that they stock my books!

  5. Margaret Debenham

    I thoroughly agree about Abbeys, and I also love Heffers in Cambridge and Blackwells in Oxford. Hill of Content in Melbourne has a quirky range of beautiful books, and Foyles in London has just about everything! In London I also like the Watermans in Bloomsbury Street near University College – a big range of new and secondhand. The Book Barn is great, but I think it’s a shame that the restaurant has encroached on a chunk of the book space. I also think it’s a shame that some bookshops now seem to be cookbookshops, with shelf after shelf of them. I suppose it’s a survival mechanism.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Yes, cookbooks and gift items have been encroaching on what should be book space in so many shops. It is obviously what many of them have to do to survive. Thanks for your nice list of favourite bookshops.

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