Melville Times - - Lifestyle - Sara Fitz­patrick

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.”

Pic­ture: An­drew Ritchie d471757

New Edi­tion Book­store owner Alan Shear­down.

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