The Bookshop Darlinghurst is continuing with a program of events – including author meet-and-greets, launches and literary dinners – in a bid to combat tough times affecting the retail industry and the Oxford Street strip, which are impacting the business.
Award-winning author and buyer/manager at the iconic bookshop, Graeme Aitken, said the store was being proactive to ensure continuing success.
“Increasingly we need to do things that draw people into the shop, otherwise we won’t survive,” he told the Star.
“It is very tough for us, and I think most bookshops, presently,” he said.
The upcoming events will involve several authors including noted writer, academic and activist Dennis Altman; show business veteran Maggie Kirkpatrick; and renowned gay author Neal Drinnan.
They follow recent appearances at the store by PFLAG spokesperson Shelley Argent, and gay authors Benjamin Law and Peter Polites, promoting their latest books.
Altman will appear in a literary dinner at the nearby Thai Nesia restaurant (143 Oxford St, Darlinghurst) in association with The Bookshop on Tuesday, 3 September. He will be discussing his new work Unrequited Love: Diary of an Accidental Activist in conversation with Jon Symons.
Altman and Symons have previously collaborated on a book about LGBT+ rights, Queer Wars.
Kirkpatrick will appear at The Bookshop on Wednesday, 4 September to promote her memoir, The Gloves Are Off.
Kirkpatrick, who is perhaps best known for her roles as Joan ‘The Freak’ Ferguson in cult TV series Prisoner and Madame Morrible in the wildly successful stage musical Wicked, will be signing copies of her book during the meet-and-greet event.
On Thursday, 19 September, The Bookshop will host another literary dinner at Thai Nesia, this time with Neal Drinnan, to tie in with his new book Devil’s Grip.
Also at the dinner will be Bob Perry, a significant player in Drinnan’s true crime story about a triple murder in rural Victoria with a closeted gay male twist.
Aitken said he hoped the events would bring business to the store at a time when established booksellers were shutting up shop.
“Retail in Australia is really suffering at the moment, and this is especially true of book retailers,” he said.
“You can see this with some very high profile bookshops in Sydney announcing closures.
“Lindfield Bookshop on the North Shore, a very long established bookshop, closed on the weekend.
“Pages & Pages in Mosman also recently announced their closure but ended up being saved by another bookseller.”
Aitken said the situation on Oxford Street exacerbated the situation.
“There are a lot of empty shops on the strip,” he noted.
“What customers consistently tell us is that parking is too expensive. Because we’re a destination, people travel from afar to come to us – but when they get here, they find parking expensive and difficult.”
Aitken called on the City of Sydney Council to adopt measures similar to those in the Leichhardt Council area, which last year saw parking charges reduced and in some cases, parking meters turned off at certain times.
He also urged the LGBT+ community to support the store.
“Everyone says they love The Bookshop and we’re grateful to have that kind of goodwill – but what we find is that people can take us for granted and always expect us to be here.
“Unfortunately, if we’re not getting the business, we won’t be here, and people need to be aware of that.”
The Bookshop Darlinghurst is located at 207 Oxford St, Darlinghurst. It also operates an online store at thebookshop.com.au. For tickets and information on the upcoming events, click the links within the article, visit thebookshop.com.au or phone the store on (02) 9331 1103.
An interview with Dennis Altman by Star Observer editor Andrew M. Potts will appear in September issue of the magazine, and online at starobserver.com.au.