The nice thing about living in the same area for a long time is that you get comfortable with the shops. I was living in Elsternwick, many years ago, when a new bookshop opened. It was a cheery place with the cheery name of Sunflower Bookshop. The owners were a lovely couple called Brian and Noreen Ormsby.
They got me interested in certain writers, such as Tanith Lee, whose first novel, Birthgrave, was on their shelves – I ended up buying about twenty of her books over the years. After a time, they moved a couple of shops down to the road to bigger premises. They would put aside books for you, which led to an embarrassing moment when I went into their storage area to pick up a book I’d ordered and found one put aside for my younger brother, Maurice, who had forgotten all about it. Of course, I bought it then and there, but they had been too nice to ask me about it.
Eventually, they moved on and the shop was bought by a lady and her daughter, who ran it for many years. Ruth, the daughter, was the shop’s children’s book specialist and when I went in one day to buy books for my library, it was she who took me to the shelves.
“Have you seen this?” she asked, pointing to one of my books.
I grinned and said, “Actually, I wrote it.”
She was surprised, but pleased, and told me that she sold a lot of copies of my women scientists book, Potions To Pulsars, for bat mitzvahs. After that, Ruth promoted all my books to buyers, which was very nice!
The next owner employed a children’s specialist, Michelle Prawer, who has been involved with the Children’s Book Council, and she did a very good job, but left to go back to library work. Michelle told me she had tried to contact my publishers just after Wolfborn came out so they could do a launch, but the place was closed for the Christmas holidays. I told her it would have been better to contact me, but it was too late by then.
Not long ago, Sunflower was sold again and taken over by Avenue Bookshop. I only went in for the first time today, since the place was renovated, and was pleased to see that there was a large children’s an YA section, an entire wall, in fact, taking up about half that side of the shop.
Time to rediscover my local bookshop!