Monday, April 2, 2012

Lying bosses and the magic of bookshops

This morning Maria Tumarkin and I spoke to Natasha Mitchell on ABC Radio National's 'Life Matters'.

We had our Monday 'Modern Dilemmas' gig, talking about an outrageously dishonest boss. Do we put up with her grandiosity, or stay smiling in silence?

You can listen here.

Embiggen Books, in Melbourne
I also have my regular Canberra Times column today, 'Savouring the magic of the local bookshop'. As I've argued elsewhere, I'm all for ebooks.

But does the bricks-and-mortar bookshop have its own particular magic? A sample:
good bookshop employees are immeasurably important. Obviously some chain bookstores are staffed by sullen automatons, for whom books are no different to chewing gum, glossy magazines or a grandé latté hazelnut with sprinkles. But the best bookshops - usually independent - are often owned, managed and staffed by readers. They combine erudition, passion for the written word, and intense curiosity. 
Just recently I visited, for the first time, Embiggen Books in Melbourne, with its elegant and ample collection of science literature. The staff member's attitude to this collection was noteworthy: an intimate custodianship. If I wanted a Darwin biography, it mattered to her which I chose, and why I chose it: which book was definitive, concise or humane. This is often how ideas spread and grow: not simply in books or journals, but in conversations that wed impressions to situations, advice to ambitions. Stacked shelves provide the occasion, but enthusiastic, intelligent and well-read staff make a bookshop an education. 
(Photo: Angela Wylie/Fairfax)

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