With the first ever New Zealand Bookshop day fast approaching, I thought I would take this opportunity to ask the new owner of my favourite bookshop, The Original Children’s bookshop, a few questions about books and bookselling.
Owner Mary Sangster
Please tell us about how you recently bought the shop but have been involved with it for many years.
I have not long bought The Children’s Bookshop – now The Original Children’s Bookshop. I have worked here for 30 years and thought that it was time to give owning it a go and to try some of my ideas.
What is your favourite thing about the shop?
The books! I love seeing all the new titles arrive and sharing my favourites with other people is just such a buzz. Hearing about what customers have been reading and are getting enthusiastic about is great.
What does your shop do that makes it so special?
The range of stock that we have and the knowledge we have about it is pretty special. We try to read as many of the new titles as we can so that we can personally recommend them to people. We never forget about the old favourites either. To us bookselling is not just a means of making a living, it’s more about introducing new generations to the delights of some of the old favourite stories and discovering new stories and authors.
Why specialise in children’s books?
Maybe I’ve never really grown up. I probably enjoy a lot of children’s books more than “adult” literature. More though, I think it’s because I really value reading and the knowledge and experience it can bring to the reader, and this is my way of helping nurture new generations of readers.
What books do you enjoy reading yourself?
Well, it depends on my mood. I like science fiction, but I love a good adventure story, especially with a touch of magic – like The History Keepers series by D. Dibben or The Billionaire’s Curse series by R. Newsome. Some of the teenage books are superb, especially the ones the deal with “issues” but are not all lovey-dovey. When I’m pretending to be an adult, you can usually find me with my nose in a crime novel or thriller, but I also like Dickens and Jane Austen. I could keep going, but that would be plain boring.
Where can we find you?
The shop is in Blenheim Square, 227 Blenheim Rd, Christchurch. That’s the block of shops with the massive carpark and The Mad Butcher, United Video and Couplands. We are tucked in the corner beside The Warehouse Stationery.
This is the first NZ bookshop day – why get involved?
One. Because it will be fun. Two. Because bookshops in New Zealand need your support. We know that there are lots of places out there where you can buy your books, but many of them don’t support the local community by giving discounts to schools and preschools, or prizes for raffles etc. as we do. We want to celebrate you, our customers, and we want you to celebrate us as members of your community. And, most of all, we want to keep sharing our favourite books with you. Oh, I nearly forgot. Three. There are some neat prizes to win.
Thank you, Mary for sharing your thoughts.
I have been involved with the bookshop myself for about 8 years and it was incredibly heart-breaking to see it so damaged after the February 2011 earthquakes that it had to be demolished. It really is wonderful to see it back on its feet and thriving. I know they have special plans for Saturday 31 October and I will be there to have some of that fun. Do come along and spend time with local children’s book illustrators Jenny Cooper and Helen Taylor. They will do book signings, they may read and will probably draw. Jenny will be here from 11-2 and Helen 12-3. Zac McCallum from the City Libraries is coming in at 2.30 and doing a storytime.
Check out the photos below. They have a New Zealand author section, which is incidentally, where I had my own book launch and they were wonderful hosts and made my night so special. There are some great books to choose from on NZ Bookshop day supporting NZ authors and illustrators.
There is a cool photo of author Derek Landy of Skullduggery fame here signing books during a visit to the bookshop. Also take a look at the queue of people waiting just a few weeks ago to get their books signed by author Andy Griffiths. It really is a special place to visit but if you can’t make it in you can always visit the shop online here.