Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Last Friday evening The Bookman had the great pleasure of attending the party for leading second-hand bookseller Jason Books who were celebrating their move to impressive new premises in Auckland's O'Connell Street.
I invited owner Maud Cahill to let me have a report on the event and here it is:

On Friday night, we celebrated the successful move to our new premises at 16 O’Connell St.
The store runs along the street in the basement of the Auckland District Law Society Building on the corner of O’Connell and Chancery Streets. It is just a few steps down from street level, much easier to access than our first floor site. You can find us by walking to the top of Vulcan Lane and turning right, or by crossing over Freyberg Square and heading for the Law Society building on the corner beside The Chancery.
Jason Books is Auckland’s oldest established secondhand bookstore. At the party, I read from an email from the store’s founder, Peter Haines:

Hilary and I opened Jason Books in High St on 24th November 1969.
I had calculated that we needed sales of $25.00 per day to make a modest living. Imagine how thrilled I felt at the end of that day when I counted up the takings: $38.85! It did not take long for the booklovers to discover us, and we made a nice living for the next several years until we sold to Marion Schreiber in July 1976.

Many of our regular customers came in every week or more often. A few we saw every day. They included a young student we dubbed "Duffle Bag" because every day he would browse until his bag was full, then come to the counter to pay. How long could he go on, we wondered, because sooner or later he would run out of space, with more books than he would be able to read in a lifetime.

The reason we had so many avid customers was that we kept our prices low.This resulted in a high turnover of stock, which in turn meant lots of new titles every day. The keen reader had to come in often so that he [the book-buying addicts were all male] would not miss out on something special.

We were very low tech in those pre-computer days, with no till nor pocket calculator. We added up the prices in our head and wrote down the sales in a notebook .

I am sorry to say we have no photographic records of this time I can do is lend you the school exercise book in which we recorded the first two year's businessand a brief notice of our opening clipped from a newspaper.(The Auckland Star, I think).

Peter did not have any photographs but he did share the shop’s original accounts books – a school exercise book in which he had recorded the first two years’ business. He also found a brief notice of the store’s opening clipped from The Auckland Star. Jason Books moved to Lorne St in 1999 while Richard Poor was the owner, and I purchased the shop from Richard in 2002.
I am really happy to have found a new space which ensures the tradition of Jason Books continues in the centre of Auckland city.

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