BOOK STORE OWNER SHOWS SPINE
I OWE a lot to this humble indie bookshop, which was a favoured evening haunt of my teens.
After all, this is where Kafka, Bukowski, Wilde and Camus revealed their worlds to me.
With so much nostalgia attached to this now 32-year-old institution, it was a delight to chat to owner Alan Sheardown – a bit of a legend in the Perth book realm.
Not only did Alan help found Mt Lawley hotspot Planet Books and go on to open East Vic Park’s Crow Books, but he saved New Edition from closing its doors for good.
“In 2014, the thenowner of New Edition was going to get out, he was trying to sell it for a few years and couldn’t get the interest he wanted and was just going to let it close down and walk away,” Alan explained.
“I was sad to hear it was closing: it’s possibly our greatest independent bookshop in Australia in that it’s still running.
“Also, it was still successful – the owner had simply lost the love and wanted to do something else.
“So I came down and took it over and shifted it into this space, on the corner of High and Henry streets.”
Alan grew up on a farm without a television and reading was his everything.
The tales of fictional koala, Blinky Bill, sparked his joy for paperbacks early on (he proudly still has those original copies).
“I’ve always loved books and when I was a kid and went to the city my haunts would always be second-hand bookshops,” Alan shared.
“I love fiction – my first love. Growing up on the farm, that was my view of the world. I love history as well and before I had kids I liked to read philosophy books.”
Anyone familiar with New Edition will know that mainstream titles are not its shtick.
It stocks good quality literature and books you won’t see everywhere, such as American Hair Metal, which is a photography book with great hair metal bands of the ‘80s and ‘90s.
According to Alan, independent bookshop sales have been strong in the last five years while ebook sales have trailed off in the last three or four years.
“If you like a book you want to have it and look at it on the shelf and say: ‘I remember reading that,’” he said.
“Publishers have realised they really need to do a good job of publishing books and so they look a lot better in the last 10 years.
“The thing I love about books, rather than reading online, is that it’s quiet: there are no pop-ups dropping in on the side – you open a book and it’s white space and words and it allows you to actually lose yourself in that.”
New Edition Bookstore owner Alan Sheardown.