Monday, May 23, 2011

Bob Gould and his bookshop

I never really met Bob Gould, although I knew who he was by sight and he me served many time at the legendary Book Arcade at Newtown. I am sad to hear that he died yesterday after a fall in his shop.

I discovered the Gould’s on one of my visits to Sydney probably while walking from an ASHA Conference venue to a restaurant in Newtown. When I moved to Sydney to start my PhD it was a place that had so many difficult to find books on Australian history. I remember evening visits simply browsing for something interesting to read (along with visits to the shop in Parramatta Road Leichhardt which was a bit easier to navigate).

It was dusty, disorganised and finding a specific book in the shop remained a big challenge. I decided that the most successful finding technique was to stand and visualise the book in your third eye and start from there. This was not 100% reliable and negotiating the shelves and numerous stacks of books was not for the faint hearted or the large sized.

How much more interesting though, was the experience of shopping than going to Angus and Robertson, Dymocks or the hopeless Boarders with their uniform blandness. It was an adventure; you might even find a book you never thought you’d want to buy. There was the potential of meeting cats (there always seemed to be an opening to allow a cat in or out). There was a whole wall of classic Marxist works – I always meant to get something of Althusser’s (was it “For Marx” or “Essays on Ideology”, both were there) but managed to complete me thesis without it.

Although in recent years the shop was tidied up and Gould’s appeared on the internet the shop was still impossibly cluttered. Jane commented on this when we last were there “worse than your office, Iain” I think was the nub of it and sadly it was full of trip hazards.

I hope Gould’s continues to provide a diverse and different book shopping experience.

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