Every year at the Australian Booksellers Association (ABA) gala dinner, booksellers from all across Australia come together in their glitziest attire to sip cocktails and celebrate the achievements of their hardworking peers. The ABA Bookseller awards recognise booksellers for their exceptional performance at the bookshops they work, as well as their contribution to the book industry and the local and wider community.

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The 93rd Annual ABA Conference Gala Dinner - Celebrating Bookselling

This year, the 2017 ABA Penguin Random House Young Bookseller of the Year award was taken home by Sarah Deasy from Avid Reader. Sarah originally started at Avid Reader as a Christmas casual but her talents were quickly recognised and she soon rose up the ranks to book buyer. A jack of all trades, Sarah’s had a hand in almost everything around the bookshop, from designing counter tops, to constructing novelty lights - even rewiring the computer system! Fiona Stager, owner of Avid Reader, tells us that ‘Sarah represents everything that is best about a young bookseller. She is hardworking, committed and imaginative, with a wide range of skills. We couldn’t do without her!’

We spoke to Sarah soon after her big win to find out all about why she loves bookselling and her bookshop.

Sarah Deasy

2017 ABA Penguin Random House Young Bookseller of the Year Award winner,

Sarah Deasy from Avid Reader

 

How would you describe your job?

I'm the buyer at Avid Reader, which means I meet with reps from the publishers who show me the upcoming books, and I decide which books I like and think will work for the store before ordering them in. I also reorder books that we have sold and keep an eye out on what is selling well, so we always have the must-have books in stock, as well as making sure we have copies available for upcoming events and author tours. This means a lot of reading - the books themselves (although I don't have time to finish everything) plus reviews and articles that tell me which titles might have a bit of buzz behind them. When I'm not in the office, I work on the shop floor actually bookselling, talking to customers and recommending books. I also like to build window displays and make the shop look tidy and inviting. I also order in all of our non book products, such as cards, gifts, and stationary, where I'm always try to add new interesting items to our core range of customer favourites.

What is the best part of your job?

The free books! Publishers send us advanced reading copies so that I can decide how much I love a book and if I want to order a whole bunch that I think I can sell. I wanted to work in a bookshop because I love to read, and this is one of the few romanticized perks of working in a bookshop that is actually true. Plus I often get to read the big hyped book before anyone else (like the new Murakami). Somehow I still manage to spend a lot of my pay cheque at the store though. Not sure how that happens.

Why do you think bookshops remain so popular in a digital age?

Bookstores really do seem to be different from other forms of retail, partly because of the passion of the staff who love coming to work to talk about books, and partly because of the particular type of people that are our customers, who appreciate coming into a store and listening to us talk about books. I'm not sure if it's because the act of reading itself is so insular, a bookstore allows people to connect with other readers? But there is definitely a feeling from walking into a bookstore that you can't get online with an algorithm. 

Why do you love your bookshop?

Because of the people! We have a wonderful group who work at Avid Reader, and we are quite a family. A lot of us have other things going on outside of Avid - writing novels, bands, study, and families - but we always come back to Avid. It's a very democratic workplace that encourages the staff to bring their own touches and specialties to it, and I think that comes through to our customers - that Avid Reader is everyone's bookshop.

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You can keep up with Avid Reader here or visit the bookshop in person on #loveyourbookshopday on Sat Aug 12.