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Yass controversy

Well it was an interesting week with news our council wanted to remove a book from the library.


I like many others, wrote to Councillors before they voted and am glad that the motion was voted down. It was a relief to see the response on social media from our community who (mainly) expressed views against censorship, regardless of the book in question.


It was pleasing to see the responses from Yass Valley Councillors at the meeting, commenting on the lack of sex education when many of us grew up, the power and importance of giving young people knowledge and information and the risks of censorship, especially in relationship to the role of local council.


I came across this article about the role of bookstores in the current political climate, from a US perspective, but many of the same issues are valid here. I am in a Facebook group of independent bookstores, mainly made up of US booksellers. It is shocking the abuse they get for stocking and promoting books on different topics, or from diverse authors. People seem to be emboldened by our leaders and I could rant for ages on this but will restrain myself :-)


Thinking about the political nature of bookstores: there are at least 5 books out at the moment on The Voice to Parliament and I stock them all. I had a look for books from the no side and only came up with this one. I choose not to stock it but would order it in if it was requested.


Book week


The wonderful children's authors Barbie Robinson (joined by talented illustrator Ian Robertson) and Rhian Williams took part in the Murrumbateman Public School activities last week. Canberra and surrounds has many talented authors and creators, we are very lucky.


The Children's Book Council of Australia announced it's 2023 winners, with some wonderful books awarded. Wee Jasper Public School purchased the shortlist of picture books from me which was amazing and great fun to see them all together. I loved seeing the pictures of book week costumes last week, I think Runt would be a good option to get to take your dog to school :-)


Events


On the weekend we hosted Barbie Robinson and Serina Bird at Yazzbar to hear about Serina's book How to Pay Your Mortgage off in 10 Years. I have a copy and am looking forward to making some changes to prioritise paying my mortgage off!


9th Sept - RSVP now - In a couple of weeks Barbie will be joining us again to talk to Sam Vincent at Yazzbar, about his book My Father and Other Animals. I heard Sam talk about the book at Gunning Library earlier this year and he is very interesting and funny. He talks about regenerative farming, their amazing fig trees, his father's aversion to not working and the challenges of farming, family and change.


I went to Goulburn Library's night of crime to sell books by authors who talked about their books - fiction and non-fiction, their inspiration and the allure of crime reading (and watching) for Australian audiences.

Sulari Gentill - a local favourite

James Phelps - his book on Goulburn Jail was very popular :-)

Michelle Prak - her first book and it sounds like a fabulous read



Goulburn Library has some great events coming up, Gabbie Stroud on Wednesday, a CSIRO book called Eclipse Chasers on the weekend and local Robyn Cadwallader in September.


Books worth mentioning


The Voice to Parliament Handbook is worth a read if you are undecided about the referendum.


Chai Time at the Cinnamon Gardens has been described as a Trojan Horse with a pretty cover and an important story. It was released last year but has come to prominence after winning the 2023 Miles Franklin award and a wider audience is now loving the book.


Last Wednesday Book Club is reading Celeste Ng's Our Missing Hearts and will chat about it on Wednesday evening. I am a bit behind in my reading at the moment but am loving this book so far. It is feeling quite relevant and a bit scary considering recent local events.


Survey


I created a survey and shared it on Facebook a week or so ago. Unfortunately the survey platform is now asking for me to subscribe to access my results. The first lot of results that I can access were interesting.


I always thought my main competition would be Amazon, but BigW came out on top. I haven't shopped there very often and my memories of stores like KMart, Target and BigW are of small book sections with mainly cook books and some best sellers.


I went on their website and they are really providing a comprehensive range and at very cheap prices. Their buying bulk and ability to offer cheap prices as loss leaders is similar to Amazon I guess. Smaller discounted items bring people in who hopefully will buy other things to increase their profit. It is more predatory pricing behaviour, which is putting locally owned small business at risk.


So the survey was definitely worth it - but not the annual subscription fee worth it. I now have a better idea of the competition and the risk involved. I did also get a lot of love from local bookstore shoppers which was lovely and I know it is a decision that is hard to make, especially on a budget, so I am even more grateful to everyone who supports my shop.


Hiring


From the school holidays in September we will be increasing our opening hours again as Spring and Summer are coming - yay! I will be looking for a casual employee to join Helen and I.


To finish up, yet another article about bookshops as third spaces, it covers some of the reasons why book stores, coffee shops and libraries are important in communities.

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