Manawatu Standard

Last chapter for book store

- Sinead Gill

Opening a bookstore was a happy-ever-after moment. But four years on, a pandemic and personal loss are spelling a bitterswee­t end to the fairytale.

Beth Drysdale, 56, is closing the door on Beth’s Books in Feilding at the end of the month. Although the shelves are already 1500 titles lighter, there are 2500 more to go.

Unsurprisi­ngly, Drysdale is a big lover of books. She said her relationsh­ip with the industry was a series of natural steps from reader to collector, to bookstore employee, to owner.

She took that final step in 2017 at the encouragem­ent of friends when the 120-year-old premises on Manchester St became available. ‘‘I’d talked about it for a while.’’

The building needed a lot of work, but with friends helping her, it was fun.

Friends she made from work and book clubs helped her to scrub the floor, assemble bookshelve­s, and even install a gate so her dogs could keep her company in the shop. ‘‘But I’ve had a couple of those friends pass away … It hasn’t been as much fun without them.’’

And when she reopened the shop following the lockdown last year her customer base never bounced back. ‘‘After lockdown, people got into the habit of not going out as much. They stopped coming into local shops like mine.’’

Drysdale thinks people had forgotten the value of secondhand bookstores, which often offer outof-print, hard-to-find titles, and the nostalgia of finding books adored in childhood but since forgotten.

She hopes people buying books from the closing-down sale will reignite their passion for reading.

Drysdale’s favourite genre is children’s books, which the shop has been known for. ‘‘A lot of people ask after Elinor M Brentdyer, Lee Child of course, and Mary Scott ... Manga goes out the door as soon as it comes in.’’

She hasn’t relied on the store’s income – she is also employed as a support worker.

Drysdale said excess books would be collected by book club members and be distribute­d to other secondhand stores.

As of June last year, Beth’s Books was one of 50 remaining secondhand bookstores in New Zealand.

At least one other secondhand bookstore, Scribes in Dunedin, has also closed in the past year.

Beth’s Books remains open from 10am until 3pm until the end of the month, but is closed on Sunday July 25, and opens 11am on Wednesdays.

 ?? DAVID UNWIN/STUFF ?? Beth Drysdale is shutting the doors of her secondhand bookstore at the end of the month.
DAVID UNWIN/STUFF Beth Drysdale is shutting the doors of her secondhand bookstore at the end of the month.

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