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  • Writer's pictureJo

Love Your Bookshop

We've recently had news of yet another bookshop going up for sale, hot on the heels of a flurry of bookshops closing down. And there aren't many buyers at the moment for a bookshop - knowing it's such a difficult business. There are, admittedly, some new shops opening up and some bookshops which are obviously doing very well (looking at you, Readings). It's not all doom and gloom. And now that people are over their Kindle curiosity, we are happy to see people coming to the conclusion that a book is better. However, the reality is that it's really hard to get people to actually walk into a local bookshop. The ease of online ordering means that you don't have to leave your couch, your fireplace or your cup of tea to do so. You can open up the laptop, a few clicks and your books arrive in a couple of days. It's easy and efficient. What it means is that your local bookshop misses your face. Your local bookshop sits idle. The lights are blazing, the heaters are on, the rent is paid - and when no one is coming in to purchase books - well, it doesn't add up. Midwinter in Port Fairy is particularly glum. So your local bookseller goes mad trying to think up new ideas just to get people to walk in the door. Events! Author visits! Competitions! Free cake! Free wine! We are all over social media because we have to be - we have to keep reminding people that we are here and we are willing to bend over backwards for them. Our shop specifically faces an extra problem - that we are off the main street and therefore out of sight... All of this is making bookselling a bigger job than it ever was, and it's putting an enormous amount of pressure on the booksellers. It was once a one-person job - in the past it was often an elderly person at that - but now we require help, and it's still a 24-hour a day job. We are open five days a week. Sometimes I wonder if we ought to be listening to the people, responding to the evidence - perhaps we are trying to keep alive something which is no longer desired in reality - even if it's desired in the imagination, or the heart; something which people no longer have a place for in their busy lives. This Saturday, for Love Your Bookshop Day, we are offering discounts on all book stock. We are offering free champagne and free cake. We are offering prizes for Love Letters to Blarney. We'd love to know what we mean to you, and we hope you'll come to the party. (You can write in the comments what your bookshop means to you - we'd love to hear it. And we're willing to hear the truth - if you do actually find that you have no room for a bookshop in your life, tell us that too, but as gently as you can. Booksellers are generally in it for the love of books.)

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Years ago in Freo there grew a bookshop called New Editions. It was my favorite Australian bookshop. When I bid farewell to Freo and New Editions I grieved as a beloved bookshop is a rare find.

To my delight I came upon, as many of us have, a rare secret find, the glorious and hidden treasure of Port Fairy that is Jo and her 'Blarney'. Beloved, quirky and eclectic, this bookshop provides so much on so many levels: a salon for artists, interviews with authors, artists, poets, photographers, musos, the odd vino, random competitions and joy upon joy, lots of wonderful, quirky, engaging and enthralling books. It is a bookshop for all, a wonderland for children and a visual delight.…

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