How did you get into bookselling?
As a writer, reader and passionate lover of books, I have always been found lurking in bookshops. It seemed natural that one day I would end up working in one. Seven years ago, I dropped a CV off to my local bookshop (Matilda) and hoped for the best. A year later, Gavin and Joanna got in touch because a position had opened up. Yay!
Has bookselling changed in recent years?
I’m sure that it has. But some things don’t change: the joy of finding unexpected treasure in a bookshop. I also think that bookselling is more than just bookselling, more so now than ever. Bricks-and-mortar bookshops belong to the community as informational, educational, social, and cultural touchstones.
What’s your pet peeve about book retail?
Customers turning their noses up at the RRP of a book (especially Oz books) and claiming they will look for it cheaper elsewhere. I do understand what it’s like to live on tightened purse strings, but Australian publishing must be supported if we want to hear Australian voices.
What can publishers do better?
I think publishers and booksellers have a healthy reciprocal relationship – it’s an ecosystem that includes authors and readers, too. I hope that publishers continue to take risks on unknown voices and continue to celebrate much-loved voices.
Is there a book that you think everyone should read?
There are so many different books and so many different readers (thank goodness), but I think everyone should read anything by Helen Garner (if they want to). Also, Night Boat to Tangier by Kevin Barry, just because it’s so good. Tight, poetic, unexpected. And I wouldn’t be the first to say this, but Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe.
What kinds of books do you gravitate towards?
I gravitate towards contemporary Australian fiction and fiction in general; tight, spare, svelte stories; writing that does unexpected and beautiful things with language; poetry; and writing that tells me something that I didn’t know before. I love writing that imagines alternative histories rather than the ones dominating the archives.
What is a recent Australian title you loved?
I have two I’d like to mention: Australianama: The South Asian Odyssey in Australia by Samia Khatun and Yellow Notebook: Diaries Volume I 1978–1987 by Helen Garner. I’ve also been reading Australian classics by Elizabeth Jolley and Barbara Hanrahan recently. So good! Then there’s Heather Rose, Charlotte Wood, Favel Parrett, Peggy Frew, Hannah Kent, Alex Miller, Tara June Winch, Christos Tsiolkas, Rebekah Clarkson …