Pair open store to feed fellow bookworms

Managing to stand in the entrance to Wanaka’s just opened independent book shop ‘‘The Next...
Managing to stand in the entrance to Wanaka’s just opened independent book shop ‘‘The Next Chapter’’ are co-owners Jennifer Ainge and Sally Battson (right). PHOTO: KERRIE WATERWORTH
There are very few positives to come out of Covid-19 except perhaps for booksellers who are benefiting from the rise in the number of people stocking up on the written word.

Former documentary maker Jenny Ainge and project manager Sally Battson opened the shop "The Next Chapter" in Wanaka last week, not knowing it followed one of the busiest months in book publishing around the world.

There were 300,000 new books published internationally in September, the biggest number of new releases in years, and it was because people were reading more, Ms Ainge said.

"Research is showing New Zealand is up 30% on the number of books bought at the same time last year.

"There is no data to say this will be the pattern but New Zealand booksellers have done better than Australian booksellers and both have done better than American booksellers under Covid," she said.

The idea of opening a book store had been incubating long before Covid appeared, Ms Ainge said.

"I had always had a dream of running a book store and last year when yet another documentary did not get funded I began to think the idea had merit."

Ms Ainge and Ms Battson were neighbours and used to share books.

"When Jenny rang me up and said I have got this idea to open a book store in Wanaka and am looking for a business partner, I immediately said to her, ‘Pick me, pick me’," Ms Battson said.

Wanaka has an estimated 27 book clubs, two University of the Third Age groups and is reputed to have one of the highest densities of Royal Society members of any New Zealand settlement.

"We knew we had a big book- reading public," Ms Ainge said.

The store was meant to open earlier this month but Covid-19 lockdowns in Melbourne had caused delays in stock arriving by ship from Melbourne and Ms Ainge broke her ankle at a fundraising dance last month.

They said the name of the shop was chosen from a long list of possibilities but as they both had come from different careers "it enscapsulated what it was about for us", Ms Battson said.

"I just hope it is not the last chapter for me," Ms Ainge said.

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