New chapter for Wayward Books

Rhonda Dredge

People might be missing Wayward Books and worrying that one of their favourite local personalities was doing it hard.

Judy Collings is, in fact, in Italy on a holiday with friends after retiring and selling the business.

The lease was up at her Bellair St shop and she thought she had a buyer.

The crunch came and her old mates at Erinbank Gift Shop in Macauley Rd came to her rescue and bought the books.

They might be a new chapter in the Kensington lit scene but it’s already up and running with a thoughtful approach to bookselling.

“We thought it a reasonable extension of the gift shop,” Brad Phillips told North West City News. “It was a good community asset, and we didn’t want to see it disappear.”

The new bookshop is tucked away in a room at the rear but it’s already having an influence on the rest of the business and Brad is beginning to talk about genre in terms of gift items.

He said it was important to have a range of price, depth in the offering and a few high turnover items.

“Gifts have to be displayed for effect. They can’t be random, and they need a balance of price points.”

The same can be said for books. Their careful placement hooks a reader. A book by Ferlinghetti suggests a radical bent.

But top shelf in the bookshop are some first editions by more conservative authors, Joe Bjelke-Peterson and Robert Muldoon and Ruth Park.

“These provide interesting snapshots of politics 30 to 40 years ago,” Brad said.

The fiction section is well-represented with a mix of new and second-hand books with an average price of $10.

Judy stocked zines and locally produced poetry books and Erinbank is carrying on the tradition of supporting lesser-known Melbourne writers.

Literary conversations are also available with more of a focus on new titles carefully selected by the Erinbank team.

Brad is recommending Girt Nation by David Hunt this month, even though a customer says the book, the third in a series, is not as good as the first two.

It’s difficult being a bookseller and recommending titles. Most booksellers are wary. “You can’t be critical of someone’s choice,” Brad said.

The shop would buy second-hand books, Brad said. “If we’ve got it, we won’t buy it.” He advises emailing pictures of the covers to the shop. •

 

Caption: Brad Phillips with his recommendation for June.

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