Alan Sheardown, owner of New Edition, shares an insight into running this vibrant Fremantle bookstore.
How did you get into bookselling?
Back in 2000, a friend was working at Berkelouw Books and they needed a casual. I had always spent my spare time drinking coffee, listening to music and haunting second-hand bookstores late at night, so she suggested me. A year or so later the manager had a heart attack (not fatal) while the boss was overseas and I took over running the store.
What do you love most about being a bookseller?
The books and the customers. Good bookstores create a great civic ecology. It’s a privilege to be a part of such a community. There aren’t many industries where you regularly interact with scientists, gardeners, teenagers, artists …
What’s your pet peeve about book retail?
That you never get to sit down and read books while you’re at work.
Has bookselling changed in recent years?
Sure, price comparability across various outlets and markets has become increasingly important. But more generally I feel like the mood in bookstores is more positive as more people realise that actual bookstores are important to a community.
What kinds of books do you gravitate towards?
Books that are considered and thoughtful, that reach out and connect ideas. They can be any genre – fiction, history, science –but when they are honest, books can be quiet, radical truth bombs.
What was the last interaction on the floor that made you laugh?
“Do you have Anna Kournikova by Leo Tolstoy?”
What is a book you loved recently?
Sand Talk by Tyson Yunkaporta was the most stimulating book I’ve read recently. It is a book that offers concrete ways of dealing with Australia’s past as well as ways intelligent ways to move forward on issues such as inequality, land use, Indigenous enfranchisement.