“A cornerstone of the literary community”: Our bookshop of the month is Love Books, Joburg
Now more than ever, we need to support independent bookstores. We have decided to feature one indie each month and hope that our community will rally behind our efforts. We invite you to submit a blog post about your favourite bookstore. We would love to hear from you.
This month’s bookshop is nominated by Maria Allingham (@literarycityadventures)
One of my favourite bookstores in the world is Love Books in Johannesburg. I feel very connected to this store – I worked there on the weekends for years when I was a student. I also visited regularly during the week, I attended book launches, sheltered from storms – literal and otherwise – and, bought many, many books there. It has all of the qualities which, for me, make for the perfect bookstore. A beautifully curated book selection, extremely knowledgeable staff and a warm and inviting atmosphere make this a truly special space. This has all made it one of the cornerstones of the literary community in Johannesburg.
I asked Kate Rogan, owner and director of Love Books, some questions about what we can do to support them during the lockdown, and beyond:
How can customers support Love Books? Are you currently open and/or shipping books?
Just keep buying books! We are open for trade (with appropriate hygiene protocols of course) so you can pop into the shop and do an actual, physical IRL browse. Or you can send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can see if we have what you’re looking for. We are doing free delivery to Melville and The Parks. We are encouraging people to buy vouchers as well to keep our cashflow flowing! They can do this in a blink of an eye on Snapscan where you can choose a small business to support. Just choose Love Books, buy your voucher on Snap, the voucher is stored in Snap on your phone and then you just use it when you come in. We can even bring Snapscan to your front door if you don’t want to go out. We’re happy to courier books further afield too.
What new books can you recommend from the store? What are you really excited about, or have read and loved recently?
It took almost 4 weeks for a proper lockdown delivery of new titles to arrive. Very excited to say the new Sebastian Barry, A Thousand Moons, is in. As is the book everyone seems to want to read, My Dark Vanessa, by Kate Elizabeth Russell. Maggie O’Farrell’s Hamnet, is a wonderful wonderful read and the best thing I’ve read this year. It’s the story of Shakespeare’s family and his son Hamnet, and it’s set in the time of… yes… the bubonic plague.
Can you offer any insights into the challenges facing booksellers right now and any tips to the community on how we can help?
Sales are a challenge – people are understandably reluctant to go out, and we are unable to have our regular events, which of course sell books and bring life to the shop. So please don’t forget we are here, and while we are at last receiving lots of new titles, we’d love our customers to remember that wonderful thing of finding something unexpected in our store – we have loads of hidden gems.
Given that the wheels of the supply chain are turning very slowly in the publishing industry worldwide, we find ourselves relying more and more on the hidden gems, the quirky titles, for sales. This has been wonderful for us because it is what an indie book store is all about, so we’d love our customers to arrive at Love Books with an open mind!
As a small business, cashflow is a challenge and it’s the thing that will undo us if we don’t manage it, so again, buying forward in the form of gift vouchers would be lovely. We had an incredible response from our community to buy vouchers when I first launched the campaign and I feel incredibly lucky that our customers came forward with the most amazing support. So affirming. If I list the major challenges, I get this – delivery (slow), feet through the door (fewer), pricing (it’s going to go up!), lack of events (these drive sales).