A bookshop that’s a ‘Barbie-free zone’

This Saturday (11 August) is National Bookshop Day, a day to celebrate bookshops’ important place in our communities. What would we do without them?!

To celebrate, we’re focusing this week on some of the bookshops local to Wilkins Farago’s own community in Melbourne’s inner south.

Today, we’re visiting Readings St Kilda. Situated in trendy beachside Acland Street at the southern end of the Number 96 tram route, Readings St Kilda (formerly Cosmos) is one of six Readings outlets across Melbourne, and is a spacious browsers’ paradise, especially if you find yourself in St Kilda in the evening (it closes at 10pm). This month, the Readings group chose our new title Empty Fridge as its Kids Book of the Month.

Kids’ storytime at Readings St Kilda is on every Thursdays at 10.30am.

Readings St Kilda has a great children’s book section, looked after by children’s and young adult books specialist, Angela Crocombe. We asked Angela to explain her approach to kids books:

I have a display table which I like to rotate regularly with new, gorgeous picture books and interesting non-fiction titles. I like to keep quirky, unusual books prominently displayed and keep any branded product to a minimum throughout the store. Readings is definitely a Barbie-free zone!

Good design and good storytelling are paramount. I keep a strong range of classics, which are always popular, as well as a section of indigenous stories. We have quite a few tourists and people sending gifts overseas, so it’s important to have a range of home-grown titles available. Changing stock on display regularly is also necessary to keep it looking fresh.

Storytime [Thursday mornings] is my favourite 30 minutes of the working week. I like to begin with a bit of juggling to get everyone’s attention focused on me.  I love getting my audience interacting with the stories and see which ones they engage with the most. It’s a good lesson in what works. An adult may love a story for very different reasons than a kid and, while there are some great picture books for adults, if a story doesn’t work on its intended audience then it’s not a good book.

You’ll find plenty of Wilkins Farago books at Readings St Kilda, so why not drop by for Thursday morning storytime, or pay them a visit this Saturday for National Bookshop Day? If you can’t make it into the shop, they have a great online bookstore too.

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‘Empty Fridge’ is Readings’ Kids Book of the Month

Readings Kids Book of the Month

New book alert! Our latest kids picture book, Empty Fridge by Gaetan Doremus, is released today. We’re delighted to announce it has been selected by Readings Books Music Film as their Kids Book of the Month for August.

Here it is proudly featured on the front cover of the new Readings Monthly newsletter (right).

Angela Crocombe, children’s book buyer at Readings St Kilda, also reviews the book inside. Here’s an extract from her review:

It’s been a busy day, you haven’t even thought of dinner, and when you look in the fridge it’s empty. What to do? How about visiting the neighbours to see if together you might have enough food to make a meal? That is the simple premise of this delightful picture book set in a busy five-storey apartment block …

This beautiful evocation of modern living and the pleasures of sharing by French author and illustrator Gaetan Doremus was first published in France and won a prominent kids’ choice award there in 2010. It has been lovingly translated and published in English so that now everyone from three-year-olds to adults can enjoy its delectable delights!

  • You can read the full review, and buy the book from Readings’ online store, here. (It’s always better to buy a book from someone who cares.)
  • To view inside the book, click here.

Out today!

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Davide Cali ‘in conversation’ tonight in Melbourne!

Davide Cali signing books at last weekend’s CBCA conference

DAVIDE CALI IS finally in Australia and is already proving a big hit with audiences. His talk at last weekend’s Children’s Book Council of Australia National Conference was followed by a marathon 90-minute signing session.

Now, it’s Melbourne’s turn to meet him, as he makes two appearances today at Readings Bookshop, 309 Lygon Street, Carlton. There are two FREE events:

A unique signed copy

Join us for a glass of Italian wine (or OJ) and meet one of Europe’s top kids’ authors in a convivial atmosphere. Both events are free. Davide will also be available to sign copies of his books (as you can see on the right, a signed Davide Cali book is a thing to behold).

Readings has posted Cali’s thoughts on all his English language books on their website here.

Cali is on his first ever tour of Australia (for complete details, click here.)

What is this thing called, love?: blog tour day 11


DAY ELEVEN. Today, independent Melbourne bookseller Brunswick Bound highlights Davide Cali and Anna-Laura Cantone’s delightful What is this thing called love? on their news blog:

This book is a wonderful tale, beautifully illustrated and reflects on the beautiful wonder children bring to the world.

Brunswick Bound can sell you any Davide Cali title, so support an independent bookseller today

Brunswick Bound is an independent bookstore in the heart of Sydney Road, Brunswick.  Stocking an eclectic range of books, music (cds and vinyl), stationery and jewellery/gifts.  There is always something different to be found on their shelves.

Upstairs is a light filled gallery space which features bi-monthly exhibitions of Melbourne artists.  Nestled in the corner of the exhibition space is a selection of secondhand books and zines/selfpublished books.

The Davide Cali blog tour is taking place from 1 to 15 May, as a countdown to Davide’s first visit to Australia from 16 to 28 May. Every day, some of Australia’s most interesting book bloggers will be posting interviews with him, reviewing his books, offering giveaways and maybe giving a sneak peak of his award-winning new book, 10 Little Insects.

You can check out the full blog tour here.

Davide Cali’s 2012 Australian tour is an initiative of the National Year of Reading

US indie picks ‘The Red Piano’

The Red PianoANDRÉ LEBLANC AND Barroux’s The Red Piano is one of ten staff picks this month at Lift Bridge Bookshop, an independent children’s bookshop in Brockport, New York (‘the Victorian village on the Erie Canal’).

‘A solemn and beautiful presentation. Even the end papers are a work of art,’ says staff member Pat of the book.

It’s grass roots independent booksellers such as Lift Bridge Books that have made this book such a success. Keep supporting them!

Welcome back, Readers Feast

Georges has been an icon of Melbourne retailing since the 1880s.

DELIGHTED TO note that Readers Feast, one of Melbourne’s best bookshops, is re-opening in the old Georges site in Collins Street, having severed its links with the now-defunct Redgroup Retail and received new financial backing.

Manager Mary Dalmau, one of Melbourne’s book selling stalwarts, has been hard at work on the new store since the old one closed in July.

‘I am a passionate, vocational bookseller, who believes a city of Melbourne’s cultural stature is capable of embracing and supporting an independent bookstore that has as its hallmarks an enormous range, a dedicated and knowledgeable team of booksellers, and a beautiful and engaging physical space,’ she says in a statement on the Readers Feast website.

It’s great to have you back, Mary. Looking forward to seeing the new store, which should be open in ‘early December’.

The changing face of bookselling in Melbourne

WHERE HAVE all Melbourne’s bookshops gone? Well, above is a Google Map of the city’s bookshops in 1998, 13 years ago, based on data from the National Book Council’s Bookshops of Victoria (3rd edition), which was the first book we published. There were 73 book outlets in the CBD listed in the publication. How does it compare with the bookselling scene now?

Well there are some notable absentees: Readers Feast, Angus & Robertson (both closed this year), Daimaru (closed 2002), McGills (closed 2009), while only Hill of Content remains of the Collins chain after its 2005 troubles (although the chain has since bounced back as a franchise-based organisation).

There are some familiar names still in business, such as Melbourne Sports Books, Collected Works, Hyland’s Bookshop, the Foreign Language Bookshop and, back after an absence from the CBD, the Little Bookroom. And then there’s Big W and Target, which weren’t the dominant book retailers back in 1998 that they are now.

Overall, however, there are now just 53 outlets selling books in the CBD – about 30% less than in 1998, as this map below indicates. Just as remarkable is the drop in the number of general bookshops, as opposed to specialist ones. There were around 25 generalist booksellers in the CBD back in 1998. Now? About 10. Not pretty reading if you’re a book publisher, author, or reader living in this UNESCO City of Literature.

Have I missed out anyone? Let me know if I have. Feel free to add your own analysis.

UPDATE. Thanks to Andrew Wrathall from Thorpe-Bowker, I’ve added another 8 shops to the 2011 map, bringing the total to 53. Hence, the percentage has moved from a 40% drop in the number of stores in the CBD between 1998 and 2011 to a 30% drop. Still a significant drop, but I was pleased to find some more outlets to add to the map.