Dream job is one for the books

DAILY GRIND The Hard to Find Sec­ond Hand Book­shop has been a fea­ture of the One­hunga land­scape since 1988. And for as long Shalon Ewing­ton has been a part of the fur­ni­ture. Joe Daw­son sat down with the bib­lio­phile to get the word on the sec­ond­hand book tr

Central Leader - - NEWS -

Book lover Shalon Ewing­ton be­gan at the Hard to Find Sec­ond Hand Book­shop as a 16-year-old part-timer when it was still to be found – with some dif­fi­culty, hence the name – in what is now David Tua’s boxing gym.

When it shifted to the main drag she went with it as a full­time staffer and has re­mained with the busi­ness.

En­ter­ing the shop is like step­ping into an­other world – one where all things book­ish reign supreme.

Over two floors and 2000 square me­tres in the creaky old build­ing, a huge and di­verse range of books is crammed into shelves. Any free wall space is filled with posters and por­traits of a lit­er­ary per­sua­sion.

Chairs where browsers can sit for a read dot the cor­ners. It feels like the com­fort­able and slightly bat­tered home of an ec­cen­tric rel­a­tive.

Its unique­ness is one of the rea­sons Ms Ewing­ton has stayed.

‘‘I’ve al­ways loved books,’’ she says. ‘‘I didn’t know there was a ca­reer in sec­ond-hand books. I started in Au­gust 1988 as a sweet-faced 16-yearold af­ter school, tidy­ing and look­ing af­ter the shop. It doesn’t feel like I’ve been here that long.’’

The day-to-day run­ning of the shop is just one part of the job.

‘‘Ev­ery day is dif­fer­ent. You meet ev­ery walk of life from pro­fes­sors and aca­demics to way-out wacky al­ter­na­tive lifestylers.

‘‘I go out on the road book buy­ing and it takes me to man­sions and tiny lit­tle coun­cil flats. If you love books it’s a great life­style.’’

She says her col­leagues are an­other source of fun at work – ‘‘books at­tract good peo­ple’’.

As the pub­lish­ing world con- tin­ues through a mas­sive pe­riod of tran­si­tion brought about by re­ces­sions and tech­nol­ogy changes Ms Ewing­ton says the life of a sec­ond-hand book dealer is also in flux.

The days of hit­ting a mother­load of rare and pre­cious books have passed.

‘‘I have def­i­nitely found some rare trea­sures, but the na­ture of be­ing rare is just that – they are rare.

‘‘Things are chang­ing. When I started there were a lot more col­lec­tions from peo­ple who were real bib­lio­philes but those are few and far be­tween now. Col­lec­tions have been bro­ken up and sold off.

‘‘The gen­er­a­tion of book col­lec­tors is shrink­ing.’’

She says a first edi­tion of med­i­cal tome Gray’s Anatomy is one of her big­gest finds. It was sold to a doc­tor in the United States.

But there is still a ‘‘phe­nom- enal vol­ume’’ of good qual­ity, pop­u­lar books flow­ing through the store and its on­line busi­ness, which is run from Dunedin by store founder War­wick Jor­dan.

Nat­u­rally Ms Ewing­ton is an avid reader. ‘‘I love books, I love read­ing and I al­ways have a stack of books that never di­min­ishes. It’s frus­trat­ing to know I’ll never go through them all but nice to know I’ll never run out ei­ther.’’

Photo: JOE DAW­SON

Book lover: Sec­ond-hand book­seller Shalon Ewing­ton found her place at the Hard to Find Sec­ond Hand Book­shop in One­hunga.

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