Bookseller spotlight: Louise Pfanner from Gleebooks
What’s the first book that you remember having an impact on you?
The Mouse House by Rumer Godden was the first book I read by myself. I’ve loved dollhouses and pincushions ever since.
Who were some of your favourite authors as a child?
So many favourites – Joan Phipson, Rumer Godden, Mary Norton, PL Travers, Tove Jannson, Hugh Lofting and Louisa May Alcott, for starters.
How long have you been working at your bookstore? Can you tell us about the store and the community it serves?
I’ve worked part time at Gleebooks for 14 years. Our shop is an institution in Sydney, trading since 1975, and we have an incredibly loyal community of local customers. We also have a huge amount of rural, interstate and international customers too, so it’s a pleasure to be sending books to all parts of the globe.
What drew to you becoming a bookseller?
An inherent need to share books. The first bookshop I worked in was the extraordinary Mary Martin Bookshop, in York St Sydney, over 30 years ago.
What did an average day look like for you pre-COVID? And post-COVID?
An average day at Gleebooks pre-Covid consisted of a lot of shelving, and lots of recommendations & phone enquiries. Then I’d go home and read a lot.
I didn’t work in the shop during lockdown, although many of my colleagues did. Unfortunately, and for the first time in my life, I found I couldn't read in lockdown, but I listened to heaps of podcasts. Since Covid, there’s still lots of shelving and phone enquiries, but our new bookseller Rachel is running a weekly Storytime and Book Club, so it’s even more fun here.
What’s the best part about being a bookseller?
Without sounding too wet, it’s a privilege to find the right book for a child reader.
Any memorable customer interactions?
One of my favourite customer interactions was in my early days of bookselling. An English customer asked if we had any of Nina Bawden’s books.
We certainly did, we had lots of them in stock, and I told him I was just reading one. It turned out he was her brother, and he was charming, and so proud of his famous sister. He also told me she alternated between writing adult books and children’s books, something I still find very impressive.
What advice would you give someone wanting to work in bookselling?
Read a lot! And leave your prejudices about certain books at home. There’s a book out there for everybody.
Who are some of your favourite Australian authors?
Margaret Wild, Ursula Dubarsarky, Alison Lester, Frances Watts, Joan Phipson, Joan London, Madeleine St John, Murray Bail.
Do you have any favourite UQP titles?
How can we follow your bookstore online?