Good Reading : March 2010
my say Mcewan's masterly new novel DAWNING ON 18.03.2010 www.randomhouse.com.au So, here we are in March, the first month of autumn. The trees in my street are turning a beautiful shade of amber. I revel in this time of year. I love to walk to work, kicking up the leaves with my feet. And it's a perfect time to sit in the garden, lapping up the sunshine and war mth, while ensconced in a good book. I was a bookseller for 20 years and during that time I rarely got to see the outside during the day. Trapped inside all day and part of the weekend meant that I looked anemic and rarely got the chance to loll around outside enjoying the weather, whatever it be. Many shoppers used to come into the store and say how much they would love to work in a bookshop. I think some of them thought we would read part of the day. I can't tell you how hard booksellers work. It must be one of the most labour intensive jobs in the world.You unpack and pack so many of thousands of books in a week you lose count. And you have to know them all, what they look like, where they are. Well, good booksellers do.They know their books intimately. I often had readers come in without a title, just the colour and the subject. We could usually come up with the goods for them. Even though it is many years ago now, I can still clearly remember our regular customers. Readers with pages and pages of long lists of the books and authors they had read. They would bring along their lists to make sure they didn't double up, as they had read so many they couldn't remember which ones they had and hadn't read. One particular woman was disabled with such shocking arthritis that reading was her life. We had a great relationship with a mother and daughter who would allow us to select the books for them each month. Such trust! I loved working as a bookseller but my working life was to take on a change when I opened Collins Booksellers first superstore. It was an enor mous challenge but a thrilling one. I was so excited to select the books to stock, help design the store, from the shelving to the fabrics of the lounge chairs. Unpacking the books and making it all look beautiful. I then got such pleasure from readers coming in and being enveloped in the atmosphere we had created. Managing such a store had different challenges to managing a smaller bookshop. More back-office and paperwork for me, less helping and chatting with customers. After all, there were many more staff to help out. So I found myself losing touch a little. Although I had a wealth of knowledge and infor mation at my fingertips, I was finding it harder to instantly lay my hand on a book, be in touch with what customers were reading and enjoying, or recommend the latest good read. If I felt this way, with all the resources at my fingertips, how did the readers feel? The great strength of the superstores is range and the great strength of smaller stores is service. But unless you know what you're looking for, or if you feel hesitant to ask, it can make it difficult to choose a book that's right for you. That's why we started gr. Our aim has always been to help you sift through the overwhelming range of books available, to give you confidence that the book you buy or borrow will be a good one and to encourage you to try new authors, books and genres. Whatever your style, whatever your genre, just so long as you're enjoying reading, we've achieved our goal.