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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Another Bookshop Bites The Dust

Once, there was a bookshop called Space Age Books, which was the gathering place for Melbourne fans for many years. It was in the Melbourne CBD and as we all know, that's not a cheap place to have a shop of any kind. It closed, after many years, although eventually there was another SF bookshop there, Slow Glass, run by a gentleman who had worked at Space Age. That, in its turn, became the gathering place for fans, but the rent tripled and it closed, the owner moving to the suburbs, although he now does most of his sales online.

Another bookshop, Minotaur Books, moved from an arcade to a big shop in Bourke Street to an even bigger one in Elizabeth Street, where it remains to this day, as a "pop culture" shop. You can still buy SF and fantasy there, if you don't mind paying more. But it focuses on comics, SF related knick knacks, games, DVDs, manga. All rather expensive and I, at least, don't feel as if the folk there are fans themselves, except perhaps comic fans.

Likewise, a shop I loved, in the suburbs, Alternate Worlds, became a media, games and comics shop, with very little I want to buy.

But there was another shop, Of Science And Swords, whose owners and staff were fans. You could discuss spec fic with them and get recommendations and if they didn't have the book you wanted, they would order it in. They moved from their little arcade shop to larger premises. I had bought lots of stuff there, but not been in for a while, unable to get there on time after work.

I went to the snazzy new shop today, only to find that they, too, had been unable to pay the rent and have moved online - so far, only a Facebook page, and as I refuse to have anything to do with FB for now, that is that for me. No more Of Science And Swords, just another "pop culture" store on the site  - only there aren't any books at all in it. Besides, it was the browsing and the discussion and the careful selection of a book I mightn't have heard of that I loved about the place. Buying online means knowing what you want - or think you want. Not for me!

I will have to go into the suburbs where, thank goodness, there is still a fan-run SF shop, Notions Unlimited. But how often? It's in the outer suburbs. I will have to make the decision to go there, not wander in after work to see what new goodies have arrived. And it has to b n the weekend, as it takes too long to get there after work.

Still, it's there - and it is set up very much like Slow Glass Books was... very promising!


Lan said...

It's incredible the amount of money people are wanting for rent in the city these days. I'm not surprised all the smaller stores are hearing out. It's a shame because everywhere you turn there are just more and more of the same chain stores.

Sue Bursztynski said...

I sometimes think the rent triples - and it DOES triple, every time - because the owners want to get rid of the particular client. As for chain stores, I go to Dymock's in town because it's convenient, and they do, at least, have some specialists in the children's area, where I shop for the school's books and the staff are friendly, but having a big shop means one example of each writer rather than fewer writers and a larger section. There aren't many independent bookshops left, even in the suburbs. My local bookshop, Cosmos, is now another Reading's.

Sue Bursztynski said...

...and come to think of it, the staff at the special orders counter at Dymock's know me and I recognise them, like in a small shop, while I don't know the staff at my local Reading's!

DougMacLeod said...

We lost Chronicles Books in Fitzroy Street, St Kilda, because the landlords became usurious. The site remained vacant for six months. I think the landlords lost quite a few thousand dollars, which a pleasant thought, though i'd prefer to have chronicles back.

Sue Bursztynski said...

Yes, I had forgotten about Chronicles - I browsed there occasionally, saw them more often at Sisters In Crime events. Didn't they move in with Benn's Books? Nice to hear the landlords' greed was not rewarded!

Sean Wright said...

My local is an hour away and is a second hand shop apparently doing a thriving business.

Sue Bursztynski said...

We have a second hand shop specialising in spec fic near my place,and very good too, though how well it's doing I can't say.