Sunday, September 27, 2009

Bookstore Review: Whitcoulls Downtown, Auckland

In the sixth of an irregular series on this blog, I take a look at how well (or not) the Whitcoulls store in the Downtown Shopping Mall in Auckland displays, publicises and otherwise supports New Zealand crime and thriller writing instore.

This Whitcoulls is the only bookstore in that mall. Along with magazines, cards, stationery, and non-fiction books, the medium-sized Whitcoulls in the has one decent-sized wall of fiction - divided into an "A to Z", "New" and "Whitcoulls Top 100". It also has a few small aisles of bookshelves, for categories such as "NZ fiction", "NZ non-fiction and biography", "Science Fiction & Fantasy", "Business" and others. There is no specific crime/thriller fiction like in their flagship Queen Street store, but a big percentage of the "New" and "A to Z" books are crime/thriller fiction. The store seems fairly well stocked, given its medium size, for that genre.

However, here are my findings in relation to NZ crime/mystery/thriller fiction:
  • There were a couple of copies of recent New Zealand crime title, Alix Bosco's CUT & RUN, on the top eye-level shelf of the 'New Zealand fiction' section (front-facing) (GOOD/GREAT);
  • There were a couple of copies of Dorothy Fowler's WHAT REMAINS BEHIND in the New Zealand fiction section, with a nice front facing (GOOD/GREAT);
  • There were a few copies of Lindy Kelly's #1 NZ Adult Fiction bestseller BOLD BLOOD, spine-facing in the A-Z section (GOOD);
  • There was one copy of Vanda Symon's 2nd book, THE RINGMASTER, spine-facing in the A to Z section (OKAY/GOOD);
  • There was one copy of Andrea Jutson's debut SENSELESS, spine-facing in the A to Z section (OKAY/GOOD); and
  • There were no copies of any Joan Druett, Paul Cleave, Neil Cross, Paddy Richardson or Michael Green title (all of whom have released at least one crime/thriller title in the past year or two) (POOR).
So overall, the smaller dowtown Whitcoulls store is arguably supporting NZ crime/thriller fiction better than the much larger flagship store a few blocks up Queen Street (especially given its size). Although the downtown store did not have any Joan Druett titles, it did have Lindy Kelly and Andrea Jutson, which its larger counterpart didn't.

Still, it would have been nice to see some other Kiwi crime/thriller authors in stock, or more copies/titles from, and/or better highlighting of, some of the authors they did have (Jutson and Symon). Especially as the store had a lot of older titles from many international crime/thriller authors.

So, overall, I give Whitcoulls Dowtown (Auckland) 2.75 out of 5. Better than the other Auckland Whitcoulls stores thusfar, but could do more. Thoughts? Comments? Am I being fair? Or am I expecting too much from NZ bookstores, especially large chain stores?


  1. An insightfull post. Will definitely help.

    George - Officetronics Shopping

  2. I find their selection really good so was disappointed to come across this. They run out of stock every now and then but they always get in the new releases and have a lot of specials. Plus, their staff are so much nicer than Paperplus and Dymocks (and even the larger Whitcoulls).

  3. They do have very nice staff, and I continue to shop their regularly, however this was a review of how well they supported and promoted New Zealand crime fiction, so on that count, at the time the review was done (2009), they did fall quite short - as many NZ bookstores, particularly several of the larger chain stores, did and do. They have since done quite a bit better, when it comes to stocking the likes of Ben Sanders, Alix Boscos's second book, Paul Thomas's re-release (THE IHAKA TRILOGY), and Donna Malane's SURRENDER, in decent numbers - but more still could be done.