Bookseller spotlight: Maryann Kirk from Boardwalk Books
What’s the first book that you remember having an impact on you?
The first book I remember having an impact on me was To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I was 13 years old and in my first year of high school and our wonderful English teacher encouraged us to review a book a week. To Kill a Mockingbird is still one of my favourite books.
Who were some of your favourite authors as a child?
I loved Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham. Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey. The Hobbit by Tolkien. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.
How long have you been working at your bookstore? Can you tell us about the store and the community it serves?
I have been working in the bookshop for three years. Kingscliff is a beach community in northern New South Wales. There are lots of young families, retirees, as well as holiday makers. Our customers are discerning readers, loyal and always interested in our suggestions. Children have grown up in the community and love the bookshop, going from picture books through to young adult.
What drew to you becoming a bookseller?
I love Kingscliff and have spent holidays here for years. I am an avid reader and have taken many creative writing courses and when I heard the bookshop at Kingscliff was for sale, I thought it was a perfect fit for me.
What did an average day look like for you pre-COVID? And post-COVID?
We were very fortunate during Covid as we stayed open with shorter opening hours, home deliveries and a table at the front, so no entry into the shop. But were still able to give advice and sell books. Our sales were down a lot but the community was very supportive, particularly the schools. That was for about two months.
At the moment we are back to trading as pre-Covid and have had a busy school holiday period. Now with the Queensland/New South Wales border opening we are busier again.
What’s the best part about being a bookseller?
Chatting to people about what they like to read, getting to know customers and being able to suggest books you think they will love. Seeing the enthusiasm of the children for books.
Any memorable customer interactions?
A reluctant teenage reader who after some persuasion chose a book and returned a week later for the rest of the series. The requests for obscure books are interesting: someone with a gift voucher who wanted books on 18th-century guns!
What advice would you give someone wanting to work in bookselling?
It is hard work! Unpacking, packing, labelling, unlabelling, etc., etc., but being involved in the book industry is worth it. It is still selling, but selling something you are passionate about is rewarding.
Who are some of your favourite Australian authors?
Tim Winton. Trent Dalton. Melissa Lucashenko. Heather Rose.
Do you have any favourite UQP titles?
How can we follow your bookstore online?