Unity Books wins Bookseller of the Year

Unity Books staff member Jacqui Brokenshaw is thrilled the Willis St store has won the Bookseller of the Year.

Unity Books staff member Jacqui Brokenshaw is thrilled the Willis St store has won the Bookseller of the Year.

While the future of bookshops remains uncertain, one of Wellington's leading independent stores has proven there is still life left in them yet.

Unity Books in Willis St won Bookseller of the Year at the Book Trade Industry Awards show on Sunday night.

But while Unity is very much alive after 48 years of trading, other notable bookshops in Wellington have shut their doors during the past two years, including Parsons in Lambton Quay, Quilters in Ghuznee St, and Capital Books in Featherston St.

Unity co-owner and manager Tilly Lloyd admitted the future of bookshops was uncertain, but said:

"We have a good, long, strong history as a literary bookshop and there are enough literary people in Wellington to keep us going strong.

"A lot of people are reigniting their loyalties in independent bookstores, so this award is a big vote for the Wellington booklovers – for the buying public – who support us.

"We are thrilled. It was such a vote of confidence ... it means a lot to us."

The win comes in a tough year for Unity, which lost about a fifth of its stock in late January when water started pouring through its ceiling, caused by workers stripping out a shop on the level above.

Customers quickly ralled to help, and Lloyd said the store's success was in part because it was a very social bookshop. It hosted up to 60 author events every year, which attracted hundreds of people.

"That is really, really important to the spirit of the shop, because they bring in such a wide variety of people."

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Lloyd said she always had a few tricks up her sleeve as well, to ensure the store kept ticking along. One of those ideas was the "5 o'clock martini trolley", which she hoped would get off the ground soon.

"It would entail getting a graduate from a hospitality course to come into the business with us, and we would have to get a liquor licence as well, and they would move the trolley around the shop and make martinis.

"We've been talking about it for some time. This is my favourite little side project."

Judge Carolyn Morgan said Unity Books had proven it was a great training place for aspiring booksellers. "Overall, they win this award for their general excellence, and the special place they occupy in the community."


  • Bookseller of the Year: Unity Books, Wellington
  • Publisher of the Year: Potton and Burton Publishers, newly renamed from Craig Potton Publishers
  • Young Book Retailer of the Year: Jenna Todd, Time Out Books, Mt Eden
  • Sales Rep of the Year: Tammy Ruffell, of HarperCollins New Zealand, Lower North Island
  • Marketing Strategy of the Year: Penguin Random House NZ, for Chelsea Winter's Everyday Delicious
  • New Zealand Book Industry Special Award: Bridget Williams Books
  • Lifetime Achievement Award: The Parsons family for the intergenerational contribution they have made to the industry

 - Stuff


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