Here in Sydney, in an eclectic suburb called Newtown, there is an iconic second-hand bookshop that has entertained the masses with reading material and provided students at nearby Sydney University with cheaper text books for over 50 years.
It had come to my attention, and the attention of many more with the help of newspaper and radio media, that this shop is going to close. I was grieved to hear this, and so I went, to buy some books, and to get the real story.
The bookshop was one of many opened and run by Bob Gould, who was an activist during the 60’s who protested war and conscription. Bob died in 2011 after falling from a ladder in the bookshop while sorting books. It is at present run by one of his daughters, and staffed by dedicated staff who really have been there for years.
There are over 75,000 titles in their catalogue. Many of these titles have multiple copies. I would estimate over 100,000 books in this store. When I asked about a title, the attendant knew exactly where it was, called another attendant to go get it for me, and gave him a torch. This store would not be out of place in a J.K. Rowling book. I can see some young witches lining up at the counter all seeking second hand copies of Spells and Incantations or something.
I went just to browse really, and managed to find some books by the author Orson Scott Card, who is a favorite science fiction writer. I also picked up two books by David Marr, on Patrick White, whom I just studied as part of my BA (lit). The books were very reasonably priced, and in good condition.
The Mural was commissioned by the government at the time, but was then rejected as too political. So Bob Gould bought it and it has had pride of place just inside the front door ever since. It has a kind of William Blake look about it to me. Does anyone else see that?
The good news is that this store is not closing. The rent has forced them out of Newtown but the owner is looking for a new premises in which to keep the legend of Gould’s alive. If anyone has such a premises that can hold all of these books, contact the owner. Then comes a team or people needed to move it all. I think I am going to be sick that week.