Category: Travel

Bookspot of the Week: Gertrude and Alice Cafe Bookstore

What’s more perfect then finding a book or books you want to read and starting them before you even leave the store? To sit at a cafe with a book is the ideal environment for us book lovers out there.

For this week’s bookspot we are going all the way down under to Australia. We spoke to Jane Turner of Gertrude and Alice Cafe, located on 46 Hall Street, Bondi Beach NSW 2026 Australia. 

 

Image via Gertrude and Alice

 

How did your bookstore transition from concept to reality?

In 2000, Katerina Cosgrove (co-founder) and I decided we wanted to open a cafe bookstore. It took 12 months of planning. We spent every waking hour when we weren’t working scouting possible shop locations and stockpiling 45,000 second hand books to open with. We trawled local markets, charity shops, auctions and garage sales. We lived with 100’s of boxes of books, beautiful but odd sets of china tea cups and mismatched tables & chairs that were stacked to the ceilings in our homes until we finally found our shop in Hall Street, and we opened in 2001. We are fast approaching our 20 year milestone.

 

What do you feel is unique to your bookstore?

It truly is one of a kind. People say that our shop is like their lounge room at home but without the clothes thrown everywhere!  Most other shops that have added a cafe to their business model run them as a separate entity. Our cafe bookstore is run by us. As we have been around for 20 years, many of our customers have been with us since the very beginning. We have seen babies go through school, finish their schooling and work part time for us while they complete their studies. Ella,  who works for us full time now used to visit in a pram with her Mum Jo who  is one of our biggest readers.

I love the sense of community that we have created. It would have to be the one thing that I’m most proud of. 

 

Image via Gertrude and Alice

 

If you had infinite space, what might you add to the store?

It’s a very long list that keeps getting longer! We actually have a DA (development application) to put in a staircase and extend into the unit above us. We would love to have a bigger space to hold events, book clubs, expand our children’s section and host reading afternoons for little ones. We would love a specialist antiquarian room with big leather reading chairs and my greatest wish is to have a writer-in-residence space under the big window where we could invite people to not only be inspired to write, but be available for a short time each day to chat to other aspiring writers. It could also be an artist in residence space as well. There never seems to be enough money to get it off the ground – but I’m not giving up on my dream just yet. I believe that one day it will happen.

 

Image via Gertrude and Alice

 

How do you feel your bookstore fits into your local community?

We have always called ourselves “a community cafe”. Part of our logo says “for the people” and so we live and breathe this mantra. We would be nothing without the support of our community each and every day  and our entire team is aware of this. We get involved in local projects whenever we can, support  schools and work on fundraisers with other local businesses . I honestly believe that we wouldn’t have been as fortunate as we have been to be in business for 20 years had we not become part of the community. My family grew up here at Bondi so it means everything to us.

 

Image via Gertrude and Alice

 

What does your store offer that a chain or online retailer can’t?

Totally personalised and individualised service. We know your coffee, we know your name, we know what books you like to read. We know when you need a hug or a shoulder to cry on. We know when you need 5 m minutes to sit and recharge in our cosy chairs and get ready to go out and face the world again. We hold newborn babies so you can finish your breakfast. 

We have seen people that had never read a book in their life become voracious readers. As a family-owned business we are service driven and therefore our care factor is huge. We have been on the other end of the line when dealing with a chain or online businesses and believe that what we offer is everything that they don’t. 

Our customer Michelle wrote this to me recently “It means so much to have some place to go where the staff know your name, your order, a book you might like to read, to have a communal table where people come together and make a community out of strangers.  It’s food for the soul. I don’t care if I can save $5 buying it online -what you do here is priceless.” How amazing is that to have someone write something like that about what you created! A community out of strangers…wow!

 

Image via Gertrude and Alice

 

Do you hand-pick your staff to create a specific environment?

We do. You have to be an all-rounder as working in a small team means you become multi-skilled. You have to be able to get in and do what needs to be done. Even though we work in hospitality, we don’t really have a high turnover of staff. We become like family even though it has aspects of a highly dysfunctional family at times! It helps if you read a lot. 

 

Image via Gertrude and Alice

 

What about your store do you think appeals to your neighborhood?

It has a sense of belonging. Of place and of connection. It’s warm and cosy and welcoming. We try our best to ensure that we provide a service that keeps you coming back again and again. 

 

Image via Gertrude and Alice
Featured image via Gertrude and Alice

BookExpo & BookCon Go Digital

Today, Reedpop announced that BookExpo and BookCon will be completely digital. The physical events were cancelled due to Ms. Rona and having to quarantine ourselves. But from May 26, to the 31st, there will be a full week of FREE online programs attendees can participate in.

The event director for BookExpo and BookCon, Jenny Martin had this to say, “We know how valuable it is for our community to gather and we felt it was important to reimagine the experiences you look forward to each year at BookExpo and BookCon to fit our current reality. We are excited to bring you BookExpo Online and BookConline this year, two unique digital events that will certainly be one for the books!” 

 

 

BOOKEXPO

Image via License Global

There will be all the same programs everyone look forward to. The Buzz Book panels, author dinners, and spotlights on graphic novels and picture books.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

The event will kick off with Librarian’s Day  where you’ll be getting a full day of library content.

Wednesday May 27, 2020 & Thursday May 28, 2020

Adult and Children’s Books & Author Dinners will be evening events to help everyone view them regardless of time zones.

The 2020 Adult Book & Author Dinner will be attended by Poet Laureate Joy Harjo, Carmen Maria Machado, Rep. Ilhan Omar, and Rebecca Roanhorse. They will be discussing  their upcoming works and initiatives with Zerlina Maxwell, a MSNBC analyst and SiriusXM radio personality as the host.

The Children’s Book & Author Dinner will feature many brilliant children’s and YA authors such as Judy Blume, Natalie Portman, Marie Lu, Raj Haldar, Misty Copeland, and Kwame Mbalia who will discuss and lively conversation.

 

 

Friday May 29, 2020

Friday will be Buzz Day, where all the panels will be taking place. The panels offered are the Adult, YA and Middle Grade panels. Buzz Day will also include the New Picture Book and New Graphic Novel revels. The panels will be done in a format so that each author and editor of the works will be able to have a discussion.

BookExpo will  present another day in July for bookseller programs, education, speed dating, publisher showcases and UnBound content.

 

 

BookCon

image via book con.com

Unlike BookExpo which will be taking place over three days, BookCon will only be a two day event, taking over the weekend of May 30 – May 31st.

BookConline 2020 will be full of Q&A sessions, panels and discussions with almost 100 authors, bestselling and those who are making their debuts. Some authors who will be in attendance are Nic Stone, Jenny Han, Zoraida Cordova, Mike Curato, Cassandra Clare; just to name a few.

They will be discussing a number of prevalent topics like the new super heroes, LGBTQ+ characters in literature, social justice, and more. The official schedule will be coming in just a few days.

I’ve never been to BookExpo or BookCon and now that they are online and free, I will be attending everything I can. And we here at Bookstr hope you do to.

For more information and scheduling for either of these events check out their websites,  BOOKEXPO & BOOKCON 

 

Featured image via Comic Book Daily

 

 

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