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Thursday, January 30, 2014

In Which I Lose Another Bookshop!

Farewell, Little Bookroom!

Oh, it's not closing or anything. I can even catch a tram from St Kilda and take the longish journey to Brunswick if I want to have a browse through this specialised children's bookshop for myself.

What I can't do any more is ring up and ask for a book display at my school, in which a bunch of great kids get to plunge their hands into a selected box of books and discover something they've been looking for, or something new, with a cry of delight. Yesterday I had an email from the lady who runs the shop, enthusiastically telling me that as of this year we can get it all on line! Yay! And the shop will have all these exciting events! Yay! But no more school visits, except for "special occasions". And no, I can't ring and say, "Can you bring a display, it's a special occasion." This means if you're, as it might be, running the YABBAs or having a writers' festival with guests, they get the gig of being the bookseller which sells books to the kids. Which means, of course, private schools or middle class state schools whose students have parents who could afford a private education, but haven't opted for one, the kind of school where laptops are on the book list, not a school like mine. My budget is down from peanuts to peanut shells and staffing down again, but one pleasure I have always been able to give the students is choice of new books. No more.Not this shop, anyway.

Well, it's a business. They've decided it isn't worth their while to visit schools when they can save time and money selling on line. But I mourn the shop that I've known and bought books from since they were in the Melbourne CBD, before rising rents forced them into the suburbs. I remember the original owner, Albert, who was as big a name in children's books as Agnes Nieuwenhausen. By the time they moved, he'd retired and sold his business to the staff. Then they moved on and the shop was sold again. And for a while, that was okay, though I do still miss the lovely reps who came around with boxes and boxes of books they'd chosen knowing my school's needs and my tastes(one ruthlessly brought a gorgeously illoed edition of The Hobbit she knew I'd have to buy  for myself). And over the years I bought thousands of dollars worth of books, even when my budget was halved. If I was going to buy books, that was where I'd buy them.

I explained that 1.I'm not allowed to order online. 2. I don't want to buy books I haven't seen. 3. This is for the kids; if I want to buy something specific, I will take a shopping list and visit Dymock's, with which I have a good relationship (They know me by name there and are very helpful. And a branch of Dymock's  got the gig to the last YABBAs and remembered to bring one of my books to sell, something booksellers at these events rarely do).

My explanation didn't help. The response, in politer language, was, tough! No "well, seeing you've been a good customer for years and years and had such a good relationship with us, we'll give you one or two visits a year."

I told her I was sorry we'd come to a parting of the ways after so long, but her new system is just not possible for me.

So, now to see if my education bookseller can help. Fingers crossed.

And farewell Little Bookroom! I'll miss you.

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