New York Times bestselling author Kelly Rimmer buys regional NSW bookshop


An internationally acclaimed author has decided to switch from writing to selling after buying the last bookstore in her area.

Collins Booksellers in Orange in NSW Central West was founded 22 years ago by residents Margaret and Phil Schwebel.

New owner and New York Times bestselling author Kelly Rimmer didn’t want the last bookstore in town to close or the owners to emigrate from the area.

“It’s really important to me and my family that the Orange bookshop is owned by people who live in or near Orange,” she said.

“It has always been a family business. And so there is something really, really unique and special about continuing this tradition.”

Ms. Rimmer, whose books include The Things We Cannot Say and The Warsaw Orphan, plans to involve her entire family, including her children, in running the store.

“I think there’s something powerful for kids to be surrounded by books in a bookstore or at home,” she said.

Ms Rimmer said books were an important part of her own childhood, which led to her decision to buy the business.

“I was a kid who felt very isolated and isolated at times, and it was reading and storytelling that connected me to the wider community but also helped me understand myself,” she said.

Bookstores aren’t going anywhere

Ms. Rimmer was not worried about her business prospects despite the introduction of online book retailing.

“I obviously wouldn’t buy a physical bookstore if I didn’t believe 100 percent in the future of this technology,” she said.

She said the culture of independent bookstores is thriving.

“It has never suffered like some other countries,” she said.

When Ms. Rimmer saw the Orange bookstore was for sale, she knew the property had to remain local.(ABC Central West: Xanthe Gregory)

The executive director of the Australian Booksellers Association, Robbie Egan, shared this sentiment.

“Bookstores are embedded in communities, and local people have really supported their bookstores across the country,” he said.

“If you love to read, talking to another person who is a big reader is simply the best way to find out what’s new, what’s out there and to exchange ideas.

Mr Egan said bookshops are “vital” to their local communities.

“Regional areas are full of people who are just as interested in reading as anywhere else,” he said.

“It’s neither work nor home. It’s a place to meet, talk and exchange information.”

Owners excited about the future of the shop

The bookstore’s former owner, Margaret Schwebel, said community is a big part of the store’s identity.

Ms. Schwebel said she was pleased that Ms. Rimmer plans to continue this association.

“It has to be right for this community. And that’s what we aimed for,” she said.

Two women with glasses and short hair are laughing and re-stacking books
Margaret Schwebel says she is excited about the future of the store with Ms Rimmer at the helm.(ABC Central West: Alex James)

Ms Rimmer said she looks forward to continuing the Schwebels’ legacy in Orange.

“Australia has a thriving independent bookshop culture and it’s quite exciting to be a part of it.”


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