National Bookshop Day aims to pull in the punters

New Zealand's second national bookshop day will be held on this Saturday, with various events and activities across the ...
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New Zealand's second national bookshop day will be held on this Saturday, with various events and activities across the shops.

Bookworms all over the country are rallying behind Saturday's New Zealand Bookshop Day, with the organiser saying independent bookshops are the "Spine of the Community".

NZ Bookshop Day, in its second year, promotes the act of buying locally and encourages stores to get on board with fun, bookish activities for their customers.

But CEO of Booksellers NZ, Lincoln Gould says the event is also much more than that.

Gould says it is a way to recognise that bookshops are an integral part of the community.

"NZ Bookshop Day is a wonderful way to celebrate the role and place of bookshops in our communities," Gould says.

"It is an opportunity to show that bookshops are an essential part of our cultural health – that they are 'the spine of the community'."

Christchurch's Scorpio Books co-owner Jo Hewitson says that while business has been rocky over the last few years, ...
KIRK HARGREAVES

Christchurch's Scorpio Books co-owner Jo Hewitson says that while business has been rocky over the last few years, people are starting to want real books again.

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The day also promotes a way of thinking beyond price tags or convenience, and instead supporting local communities.

More local businesses, mean more choice, diversity, and a truly unique community, he says.

Niki Ward, owner of Ekor in Wellington's College St, says her store combines her, and many Wellingtonians' love of books ...
Cameron Burnell/Fairfax NZ

Niki Ward, owner of Ekor in Wellington's College St, says her store combines her, and many Wellingtonians' love of books and love of coffee.

"Local retailers are your friends and neighbours – support them and they'll support you.

"Local businesses donate to local charities."

There is no doubting the effects the internet and e-books have had on the independent bookshop industry.

But Christchurch bookshop co-owner Jo Hewitson says that while business has been rocky over the last few years, people are starting to want real books again.

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"It really affected us when online shopping first started to happen, but I think it's really plateaued.

"People who like e-readers will always like e-readers, and people who travel a lot like e-readers.

"But when you are looking at a screen all day, the last thing you want to do is look at a screen, and so many people say this to me, 'I want a real book because I just want to curl up in bed and not have to look at a screen'," Hewitson, of Scorpio Books says.

According to TheBookseller.com, e-books sold by the five biggest publishers declined 2.4 per cent last year.

"Books are becoming more beautiful," Hewitson says.

"There are still cheap productions out there and even they are nicer than e-readers."

She says walking into a store to buy a book is about the experience, rather than just a click of a mouse.

"There so many other ways of buying books thesedays, but if you want to browse and you want to have people recommend books and to have a community around books then you need to shop local.

"People come in here wanting a particular staff member to recommend books for them because they trust them," Hewitson saYS.

Hewitson's bookshop, Scorpio Books, is having a children's illustration class during the day and a literary quiz hosted by Joe Bennett in the evening to celebrate Bookshop day.

More bookshops are becoming hybrids, selling books and coffee, or books and art to stay afloat.

Niki Ward, owner of Ekor in Wellington's College St, says her store combines her, and many Wellingtonians' love of books and love of coffee.

"The bookshop side of the business is as strong as the coffee side, we sell two-thirds books to a third of coffee," Ward says.

"People want to have a bookshop.

"I think the cafe brings liveliness to the bookshop and the bookshop brings class to the cafe, that's why these shops are becoming increasingly more popular around the world.

"People sit and they see the books, or they're in the bookshop and they suddenly want a coffee because of the smell – it just matches perfectly."

Ekor is going full Scandinavian for the day, having Scandinavian food and drinks and even selling popular books like Harry Potter in Swedish and Danish.

Murray Pillar, owner of Millwood Gallery, a bookshop/gallery hybrid, says e-books are not as good as a physical book, especially for children.

"The problem with e-readers is the technology isn't there to create good quality non-fiction or picture books for kids."

It's tough to sell books, he says, but it is his interaction with his loyal customer base that keeps him going.

Bookshop day will kick off 35 days of celebration for Millwood Gallery, as it coincides with their 35th birthday.

Events are happening around the country on October 29.

For more information, see  booksellers.co.nz/nzbookshopday

 

 - Stuff

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