Bookshop owner Deb Force, last week named joint winner of Australia’s Bookseller of the Year award, tells Benjamin Millar Yarraville has been a great place to raise kids and share her love of books.
What’s your connection with Yarraville?
I have lived in the Yarraville area for 27 years. I first opened The Sun Bookshop 18 years ago. I opened The Younger Sun, my children’s specialist shop, about 10 years ago.
What do you like best about living/working here?
I love the fact that Yarraville is not a place you drive through on your way to somewhere else. It is a little pocket, a destination.
How has this area helped shape your shops?
As the community changed so, too, did the bookshops, hence the Younger Sun’s recent move to a bigger shop in Murray Street.
How did you come to run a bookshop and what is the best thing about it?
It was really serendipity that lead to the opening of The Sun Bookshop. The best thing about owning a bookshop is, of course, so many books to read.
What does being named bookseller of the year mean to you?
Bookseller of the year is nominated by the book community. In my case it was my great staff who completely surprised me by nominating me.
What is the enduring appeal of traditional printed books in the electronic age?
You cannot share a book on a screen the way you can pass books on – the tactile experience of a new book is something I never stop loving.
I really think in this world of screens a lot of people just do not want to read all day at work, return home and read from a screen in there spare time. You cannot share a book on a screen the way you can pass books on – the tactile experience of a new book is something I never stop loving.
How have you counteracted the impact of online giants such as Amazon and Book Depository?
The only things a small business like ours can do is to provide a human contact that the online stores can not have. So we focus on great knowledge, great books and we hope great customer service. We also rely heavily on the fabulous Yarraville community who want bookshops in Yarraville.
What are some books that have meant the most to you and why?
My main love is Australian writing – to see ourselves in literature is so important. Sadly this is currently under threat from the Australian Government’s changes to regulations on parallel importing and copyright laws. New Zealand and Canadas industries have moved to the free market model that is being suggested and their local industries have been decimated.
What are your fondest memories of your earliest years in Yarraville?
I think the feeling of community has always been strong in Yarraville. When I first moved here, I remember being so taken by the range of people in age and background chatting on the streets. It was a great place for my kids to grow up, they had a great diverse lot of friends.
What’s something people would be surprised to find out about you?
I think people may be surprised to know I can’t dance, but I do give it a red-hot try.
What are your favourite local cafes/eateries etc?
My fave places to eat and drink in Yarraville are the Corner Shop, Barkley and Johnston, and Bopha Devi.