City News

Macleay bookshop turns the final pages

It is a difficult time for independent booksellers. Photo: Alexandre Duret-Lutz

Another dagger through the heart of independent bookshops looms, with the iconic Macleay Bookshop in Potts Point set to close at the end of February.

Owner Richard Stern told the Sydney Morning Herald he hopes to find someone to take over the reins. But it would be a brave soul who enters into bookselling in the current climate.

Recent Sydney closures include the Berkelouw franchise just off King Street, Newtown, and the Rocks outlet of Ariel Booksellers. The latter retains its store on Oxford Street, Paddington, while Berkelouw trades in Leichhardt, Paddington and across the city.

It is the Macleay Bookshop’s 60th year. “It’s a cultural hub in an area with more writers and artists of every stripe than just about anywhere,” Mr Stern told the Herald.

The leafy Potts Point avenue may be a cultural hub but it is not immune from the afflictions of the wider industry. High Australian retail prices set by overseas publishers, combined with parallel import restrictions, make competing with the online world very difficult. Consumers also benefit from the GST exemption for online purchases under $1000, which federal and state governments have indicated will likely be lowered or abolished.

Stores such as the UK-based Book Depository have built up large customer bases by shipping directly to Australian consumers for free at a loss on many items.

The Macleay Bookshop was, and remains, a magnet for local authors, including Linda Jaivin, Frank Moorhouse, and literary power-couple Louis Nowra and Mandy Sayer, who met at the store.

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