Monday, 29 August 2016

Indigenous Literacy Day -

September the 7th is Indigenous Literacy Day and we will be donating 10% of our sales from this day to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.  

I would like to take this opportunity to tell you a little more about the Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF) and the great work that they are doing.

The Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF) is a national charity of the Australian Book Industry. Their aim is to reduce the disadvantage experienced by children in very remote Indigenous communities across Australia. The focus  of the ILF is to improve literacy rates and instil a lifelong love of reading. Our programs focus on creating a special relationship with reading from an early age with free books, some in First language, and though publishing stories from communities.

In May of this year I travelled to the Tiwi Islands to see the ILF in action.  We were a group of nine, five ILF staff and Board members and four ambassadors - Richard Flanagan, Alison Lester, William Barton and Jared Thomas.  On Melville Island we ran a series of workshops with kids at Milikapitti School and Tiwi College.  It is hard to put into words how amazing the response was to these workshops.  As part of the program children and community members also received books to take home and enjoy.  Living in the city it is hard to imagine a world without books or even a world without any written signage but in Australia’s most remote and disadvantaged communities there is nothing and whilst literacy might be second to everyday survival the opportunity to make lasting change in communities is there and must be embraced.

The ILF runs three core programs - Book Buzz, Book Supply and Community Publishing Programs.

Book Buzz supplies books to play groups and appropriate community contacts for the youngest of children. The Book Buzz program also translates books into First language so the books are more accessible for families where English might be their second of third language.

Book Supply provides a range of books to communities. These books are carefully selected to be culturally relevant and interesting with the long term goal of cultivating a culture of literacy. So far in 2016, the ILF has distributed 50,000 books to 210 communities and have plans to expand to another 50 communities over the next year.

Last, but not least is the Community Publishing Program which involves sharing and documenting stories making Indigenous stories available to their community but also sometimes to a wider audience.  Some of these books are commercially available, please pop in to the shop and look at No Way Yirrikipayi! a fabulous collaboration between the children of Milikapiti school and Alison Lester or Tiwi Girl  which was written by the Senior Girls from Tiwi College.

This year on Indigenous Literacy Day the Spinifex Writing Camp will be launching their new book - The Goanna was Hungry.  A great book showcasing the efforts of ten young writers from Tjuntjuntjara, Mt Margaret, Menzies and Melbourne working with acclaimed author/illustrators Sally Morgan and Ann James. 

Justine Clarke, Josh Pyke and Deborah Cheetham, all of whom are ILF’s Ambassadors, have produced a fabulous song called “Words Make the World Go Round”.  The children from Gawura Campus at St Andrew’s School have joined them on this catchy song.

The ILF raises all its money without any government funding.  They rely on the book industry, publishers and most importantly any person who believes it is a child’s right to be functionally literate and able to read and write.

What you can do to help

Make a donation to the ILF
- Buy a book from us on 7th September and be safe in the knowledge that 10% of the sale price will be donated to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation
- Every time you have a book wrapped at the Potts Point Bookshop make a gold coin donation which is then given to the ILF
- Buy one of the books that are available through the community publishing program.  We have them in the shop
Buy the great new song “Words Make the World Go Round”

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

National Bookshop Day 2016 - Saturday 13 August

National Bookshop Day is going to be great fun this year, with a line-up of in store appearances, balloons for the kids and an exhibition with local flavour.

This year, we will be joined by legendary caterer Simmone Logue and musician, artist and local legend Jeff Duff.
Simmone will be in store from 12pm, signing books and giving away biscuit samples from her beautiful and tasty cookbook In the Kitchen.

Jeff will be in store from 3pm and he will be signing his outrageous memoir This Will Explain Everything.

We will be featuring in store a gallery of images from bestselling local history book Kings Cross: A Pictorial History.  This is your chance to see some incredible images that tell incredible stories about our neighbourhood up close and personal.

And don't forget - there will be balloons for the kids. 

About the Authors
 Simmone Logue started her food business in a small flat in Sydney's Neutral Bay, hand-delivering her cakes to local cafe owners.  She then leased an old butcher's shop, added pies, braises and salads to her repertoire, and her business continued to grow.  Now 25 years on, Simmone has created a $10 million business in wholesaling, retailing and catering.  

Jeff Duff is arguably the most flamboyant, creative and controversial entertainer Australia has produced. His musical gifts and fantastical androgynous performances parallel the artistry of David Bowie. While Duffo's career kicked off in the 1970s, he continues to grow as an artist, creating new music and performing sell-out concerts to this day. And no man looks as good in a leotard. 

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Anna Low - 2016 Bookseller of the Year

Anna Low, Australian Bookseller of the Year, in good company at the Australian Bookseller Conference.

Our boss, Anna Low, was the recipient of Text Publishing ABA Bookseller of the Year at this year's booksellers conference.  
We are so thrilled that Anna has been recognised for her wonderful contribution to the industry and as an amazing bookseller and boss!
Anna shared the honour with Deb Force of The Sun Bookshop and is pictured above with Magda Szubanski (winner of Book of the Year), Amelia Lush (Young Bookseller of the Year), Deb Force, Robyn Huppert (winner of the Elizabeth Riley Fellowship).

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Paris Up, Up and Away - all the way to Potts Point Bookshop

Paris has come to Potts Point Bookshop and it makes for a very pretty picture indeed.

"The Eiffel Tower is bored today.
Wouldn't it be nice to fly away?
Paris is full of things to do.
The Tower would like to see them too."

Paris Up, Up and Away is a gorgeous book by Helen Druvert (published by Thames & Hudson) which features elaborate cut outs about the Eiffel Tower hitting the high spots on a tour around Paris.  It sails through the night air, glides over the Seine; a short hop away, it finds the Opera.  The Tower weaves through crowds on the streets and in department stores, falls asleep in the sun, and wakes up to the jangling bells of Notre Dame.
This delightful book is not only a stunning piece of artwork but is also a wonderfully imaginative introduction to Paris and it's monuments for young children.

"The sun comes out and the sky is clear,
The Tower lands in a park that's near.
While the children play and the birds fly free,
The Tower snoozes under a tree."

We thought as the Eiffel Tower was going on a tour around Paris, we would invite it to visit our gorgeous picture window which faces onto our lovely garden right here in Potts Point.  A little bit of Paris enchantment at the Paris end of Potts Point.

Come in and take a look for yourself.

Paris Up, Up And Away is published by Thames & Hudson 
and is in store now $27

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Top 10 Bestsellers in 2015

What were you reading in 2015?

It was a year where the colouring book captured people's imaginations, politicians vied for literary status via their competing memoirs and the future of Australian produced illustrated titles (for adults) came into question.

So, what did our customers want to read?  Unsurprisingly, the following ten books are a mixture of the beautiful, the word-of-mouth bestseller, the literary powerhouse, the unmissable insiders read and staff favourites.

1. My Brilliant Friend (Book One of The Neapolitan Novels)
by Elena Ferrante ($23, Text Publishing)

A literary powerhouse and a word-of-mouth phenomenon, our top bestseller of 2015 has started many a conversation in the shop this past year and has polarised (some) opinions.  Set in 1950's Naples, this novel is a compelling evocation of female friendship and a fascinating glimpse of Italy - a very worthy start to the list.

2. A Little Life
by Hanya Yanagihara ($33, Picador)

Talk to Tim he will tell you that this is his favourite book on the list.  Talk to Anna and she will recall staying up 'til all hours at night crying her eyes out (and keeping her husband awake) unable to put this book down.  A Booker Prize shortlisted title, A Little Life is a big New York book about male friendship - confronting, disturbing, but deeply human.

3. The Girl with the Dogs
by Anna Funder ($9.99, Penguin Books)

This small tome proved irresistible to fans of Miles Franklin winner Anna Funder and for those who wanted a small but significant read during the busy Christmas season.
A poignant novella about family and "the siren call of the past", this book was inspired by Chekhov's The Lady with the Little Dog and is a fantastic addition to the Penguin Specials collection - a collection of short stories, novellas and essays all priced at $9.99.

4. The Girl on the Train
by Paula Hawkins ($33, Doubleday)

Not a new book (it was released at Christmas in 2014), but by golly a stayer, The Girl on the Train was touted as the new Gone Girl.  Not necessarily a correct (or promising) comparison, but it has certainly reached almost as many people via word-of-mouth recommendations.
A slow burning psychological thriller, this one will keep you guessing.

5.  All the Light We Cannot See
by Anthony Doerr ($20, Fourth Estate)

Nothing garners attention like winning a major literary prize.  This beautiful book won the Pulitzer Prize in 2015 and went from a word-of-mouth booksellers' favourite to an international bestseller.
Set against the backdrop of WW2, this story which binds together a blind girl and a Nazi soldier will surprise and enthrall.

6.  H is for Hawk
by Helen MacDonald ($23, Vintage Books)

Nothing garners attention like winning a swag of prizes.
Helen MacDonald's powerful memoir about grief won amongst other honours the prestigious Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction and the Costa Award for Non-Fiction in 2014 and solicited a great deal of critical praise and attention.  A beautiful and haunting book, she sold out audiences at the Sydney Writers' Festival when she was here last year with her story about training a goshawk in the wake of the death of her beloved father.

7. M Train
by Patti Smith ($33, Bloomsbury Publishing)

Talk to Marg and she will tell you she has read this book multiple times and will probably read it again and again.  Anna and Megan will also wax lyrical given half a chance to expound on their love for this terrific memoir.
You need not know who Patti Smith is, need never have listened to any of her music or read her previous book Just Kids to enjoy this terrific memoir about solitude, obsession, literature, New York, inspiration ..... and much, much more.  A beautiful book from a unique writer.

8. Flower Addict
by Saskia Havekes ($80, Lantern Books)

The gasps, the envy and the pure delight displayed by customers every day when they pick up this gorgeous book cannot be matched by any other on this list.
This is a collection of the work (photographed by the very talented Nicholas Watt) renowned flower artist Saskia Havekes and her team at Grandiflora produce at their Potts Point premises for events all around the country.  Not only a visual delight, Saskia's words provide insight into her unique world and perspective as an artist.

9.  Nopi
by Yotam Ottolenghi ($60,  Ebury Press)

It was no surprise that Ottolenghi would provide our bestselling cookbook of the year, as he has done so these past few years.  Nopi is not only an extraordinary addition to Ottolenghi's culinary collection (including Ottolenghi, Plenty, Plenty More and Jerusalem), but is also a gorgeous book with it's gold edging and eye-catching cover.

10.  Keating
by Kerry O'Brien ($50, Allen & Unwin)

When Australia's most intriguing Prime Minister sat down to talk to Australia's most respected journalist for the ABC's four-part series Keating, it created landmark TV.
This book, which represents further interviews, provides even further insights into the man, the politician and strategist.  That our copies were signed by both the author and Mr Keating was certainly a boon and we know many a local household will certainly treasure this book in the years to come.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Author Interview - Frank Woodley, comedian and author of the new Kizmet series

PP:  Can you tell us about your new series of kids' books?

FW:  They're based around the adventures of a girl called Kizmet who's a courageous super-sleuth.  She's so smart when she sees a set a footprints information pours out of them like a wikipedia page.  She can tell how old the person was - whether they were walking or running.  I wouldn't be surprised if she could tell if they had freckles or not.  Her dad is a bumbling detective who would love to be here but just accidentally handcuffed himself to a departing helicopter.  The stories are narrated by Gretchen who is Kizmet's best friend.  Oh, and she's a currawong.
"the stories are narrated by Gretchen...... Oh, and she's a currawong."

PP:  Most Mums and Dads would know you from your comedy skits and appearances on TV.  How did it come about that you started writing children's books?

FW:  I just follow my nose.  It's one of the reasons I would never consider rhinoplasty.  My ample nose makes it easier to follow.  I've done lots and lots of narrative comedy, so it doesn't feel very different.  I hadn't written mystery stories before but I think they're quite similar to comedy.  Comedy and Mystery are both about creating tension and then offering a surprise resolution.

PP:  The illustrations in the books are fantastic.  And they are done by none other than... well... you!  Did you enjoy illustrating the series?

FW:  It was really enjoyable.  Drawing is a very introverted activity, and I spend a fair bit of my time showing off so it was a really nice change.
"Comedy and Mystery are both about creating tension and then offering a surprise resolution."

PP:  Gretchen is a bird, but is also the narrator of the Kizmet series.  Why did you choose for Gretchen to be a Currawong, and not a Rainbow Lorrikeet (so pretty) or owl (so wise) for instance?

FW:  A friend of mine, James, lives in the country and a currawong was once taunting his little Jack Russell by dropping leaves on it from the safety of a high branch.  James threw a ball to scare it away and accidentally hit it.  The next day he found an enormous birdpoo in the middle of his windscreen and he's convinced it was the currawong.  Ever since I heard that story I've had this sense that currawongs are very intelligent and cheeky.

PP:  Kizmet's Dad, Spencer Papanicillo is not a very good detective, but he provides plenty of laughs with his bumbling behaviour.  Where (or from whom) did you take your inspiration from when you created him?

FW:  He's pretty much cut from the cloth of Inspector Clouseau and Maxwell Smart, but I must say there's a fair bit of me in him too.  Just last weekend I was trying to run an extension cord across the roof of my garage and I cable tied my thumb to a pipe and was stuck there for an hour and a half 'til my wife got home and could pass me some scissors.
"I must say there's a fair bit of me in him too."

PP:  Kismet is super smart, incredibly agile and is a terrific detective, but she must miss a lot of school going away on all these crazy adventures.  How does she manage to keep on top of everything?

FW:  I'll have to ask her about that.  I think she may be home schooled.  Which in her case almost certainly means that she reads all sorts of books, and watches all sorts of videos and online stuff, and talks to everyone she meets and listens with fascination to what they have to say.... and Spencer watches it all happen in bewildered amazement.

PP:  We've followed the team across the globe chasing down kooky (and hairy) scientists and nefarious musicians so far - can you tell us what you have in store for Kizmet, Gretchen and Detective Spencer next?  Just a hint or little detail.....

FW:  I'm not sure.  Maybe the strange appearance of a person claiming to be from the middle ages.  Or a circus that has it's big top stolen in the middle of a show.  Or a mugger who gets people to give him their wallets by just asking really nicely.  Or a patient who gets an experimental stem-cell treatment for a head injury and becomes a super intelligent criminal.  Or a virus that is taking away the voices of all newsreaders.  Or a boy who every few weeks finds an envelope with a thousand dollars in it and a note requesting him not to play soccer with his local under eleven's soccer team that week.  Or... I 'm just rambling really, I haven't even started yet.

PP:  What was your favourite book as a child?

FW:  It would have to be the Asterix comics.  The gall of that little Gaul.

PP:  And lastly, what sort of books do you think Kizmet likes to read?  And for that matter, Detective Spencer and, dare I ask Gretchen?

FW:  Kizmet loves mainly non-fiction.  All sorts of stuff that gives you new ways of looking at things.  She loved Mind's Eye by Oliver Sacks and Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson.  Spencer reads Jackie Collins romances but puts them in a Wilbur Smith dustjacket.  And Gretchen never learned to read, but she enjoys watching Total Wipeout and having her suspicions that currawongs are more intelligent than humans confirmed.

Kizmet and the Case of the Smashed Violin $10
Kizmet and the Case of the Tassie Tiger $10
are both out now.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Author Interview - Antonia Hayes talks about "Relativity"

Australian author Antonia Hayes worked in bookshops and publishing, juggled motherhood and was a co-director of the National Young Writers Festival whilst writing her debut novel Relativity.
Relativity appeared on a number of "most anticipated" lists earlier in the year and now that it is out you can find out what all the fuss is about!
First take a look at what Antonia had to say to us about Relativity, publishing and her love of science.

"Fiction and physics aren't too different.... they even use the same vocabulary"

PP:  Tell us about your debut novel Relativity.
AH:  Relativity is about science, love, unbreakable bonds and irreversible acts.

PP:  You have had quite a varied career in the book industry already.  You've worked as a book publicist, bookseller and also as a Co-Director of the National Young Writers Festival.  What do these experiences mean to you now as an author?
AH:  I suppose all my various jobs sprang from my love of books and reading, and then trying to figure out how to turn that love into a career.  As a new author, those experiences have made me really appreciate the entire ecosystem of publishing and bookselling and all the amazing, enthusiastic people who work in the industry.  Editors, sales reps, publicists, booksellers, festival staff, bloggers, media (and many more!) all play a vital role in getting new books to readers.  Writing the book is just one step.  It takes a village and I'm extra grateful for this village because I've seen how hard everyone behind the scenes works.

"now it's sold in six territories, which is completely insane...!"

PP:  Can you tell a little about the main characters in Relativity - Claire, Ethan and Mark?
AH:  Ethan is a 12 year old boy who loves physics.  He's extremely curious and constantly thinking about how the universe works.  Claire is Ethan's mother and even though she loves her son intensely and is a bit overprotective, she does often find Ethan's obsession with physics mystifying.  She's also a former ballerina but now works behind the scenes.  And Mark is Ethan's estranged father who lives on the other side of the country.  Relativity begins when Mark suddenly comes back into Claire and Ethan's lives.

"Ethan is much more like 12 year old me."

PP:  As a mother writing about motherhood, and with a son who is around the same age as Ethan, how did you approach writing Relativity?  In fact, the dedication in the book is for your son, Julian - are you going to get in trouble with him for stealing elements of his growing up to create the character Ethan?
AH:  When I started writing the book - and when I created Ethan - my son was only four years old.  So even though Julian caught up and has outgrown Ethan now, the inspiration for that character didn't come directly from my son.  If anything, Ehtan is much more like twelve year old me.  Although there are a couple of moments that I shamelessly stole from Julian (he doesn't mind I put them in the novel, I asked first): he did actually compare my reproductive system to The Hunger Games, and he does often ask for pizza at inappropriate moments.

PP:  Mark and Ethan share a scene where they talk about understanding paradoxes and extreme duality (p 337).  They are talking about scientific principles, but I would suggest that your treatment of the issues in the book - including child abuse, bullying, love and family - also require this same understanding, as nothing is black and white in Relativity.  Would you agree?
AH:  Absolutely.  One reason I was drawn to writing about science when dealing with those particular issues was because they can be just as counterintuitive as understanding theoretical physics.  Light can be a particle and a wave at the same time, just like how good people can do bad things.  I think particularly inside families and with people we love, we see them at both their best and their worst - and everything in between.  All these issues require empathy to understand them too, and that means zooming out and not seeing them in a binary way.

"learning not only forgiveness, but also what it takes to be forgiven."
PP:  "Closure was fiction, it didn't exist" (p 348)
Your characters don't necessarily find their happy endings in the pages of your novel, however do you think Relativity is a story of redemption?
AH:  I suppose it is, in a way.  I think the idea of recovery and bouncing back - like living with failed ambition and being able to redefine yourself, or recuperating from damage or hurt - inadvertently became one of the themes of the novel.  And perhaps learning not only forgiveness, but also what it takes to be forgiven.

PP:  There is much to be learnt in the pages of Relativity about science.  Many of your metaphors are beautifully played out in scientific theory or conjecture.  Does it please you that some of your readers will inadvertently walk away with a better scientific knowledge of the work than before they opened the pages of your novel?  Where does your own interest in science come from, and how did that become combined with fiction?
AH:  Physics is a bit of a weird preoccupation of mine, which started when I was very little and my dad would point out constellations in the night sky.  Later, when I was in primary school, my teachers discovered I was pretty good at maths.  Numbers and patterns just made sense to me (although I really preferred reading Babysitters Club books), so I studied math and physics until I finished high school.  I never intended for Relativity to be a crash course in physics, I guess connecting science and the story/characters is just how my brain is wired.  Fiction and physics aren't too different anyway, they even use the same vocabulary; tension, friction, momentum, resonance, trajectory, etc all apply to storytelling as well.

PP:  You were formerly a co-director of the National Young Writers Festival which champions young and innovative writers working in both new and traditional forms.  How important do you believe such festivals are in promoting and supporting new Australian voices such as your own?
AH:  Festivals like NYWF and Emerging Writers Festival are really important, not just for discovering and promoting young and new Australian writers, but also because of the community and friendships they create.  I've met many great friends through these festivals, who not only support each other's careers and creative practice, but who also share a sense of solidarity about work that can often feel very isolating.

"Because my illness is unpredictable, I don't have time to procrasinate."

PP:  You wrote an incredible article for Meanjin last year about your Lupus diagnosis which was incredibly powerful and inspiring.  How has this illness affected the writing of Relativity and your creative output in general?
AH:  Thank you:  that essay was difficult to write!  Living with a chronic illness like lupus sometimes slows down my writing output.  There are days when I'm quite unwell and have trouble finding the mental and physical energy to write.  At the same time, I think my lupus diagnosis really spurs me on.  Because my illness is unpredictable,  I don't have time to procrastinate.

PP:  Can you tell us your publishing story?
AH:  When I did the Faber Academy novel writing course in London in 2009, all the students had extracts from our novels-in-progress published in an anthology.  Karolina Sutton, a UK literary agent, contacted me after reading my extract and asked to see the manuscript.  Six months later, I sent Karolina the first draft of Relativity, and she sent back a huge list of problems I needed to fix.  But it took me four years to fix them!  Last year when I moved to San Francisco, I wasn't able to get a job here for the first 90 days because I needed to wait for my work permit to be approved.  So I used those three months to finish rewriting Relativity again, then sent it to Karolina, and after fixing a few more things, she submitted it to publishers.  That was about a year ago.  Now it's sold in six territories, which is completely insane to me!

PP:  You are currently living in San Francisco and Relativity is to be published in the US in 2016.  You have received praise from the likes of S. J. Watson (who described the book as "wonderful, beautifully written and heartbreaking") and have appeared on countless "Most Anticipated Books of 2015" lists since the book was announced.  How does it feel to be the subject of so much anticipation?  And is it bittersweet being that you are so far from home (do you still call Australia home?)?
AH:  Australia will always be home!  To be honest, I was sad not to be home on Relativity's release day (which was also my birthday!) two weeks ago.  I can't walk into a bookshop and see it on the shelves, so if feels extra surreal and abstract to now be a published author.  I've been completely blown away by all the support Relativity has received so far, but I'm much more excited now that people are reading it and sharing their thoughts with me.  Hearing directly from readers is the most wonderful part of publishing a book.

"Writing the book is just one step.  It really takes a village."

PP: Do you have a favourite book?
AH:  I have about a million!  But my favourite author is Ian McEwan.

Make sure you check out our event with Antonia on Tuesday 25 August.  She will be in conversation with Benjamin Law about Relativity as part of the Authors Up The Cross event series.