Friday, June 27, 2014

Page & Blackmore named New Zealand's best bookstore

I love bookstores. Whether I'm home in New Zealand or travelling the world, I can't help but delve into a good bookstore at any given opportunity. English-language bookstores tucked down an alley in Hanoi, specialist mystery bookstores in Seattle and Houston, screenwriting-heavy stores in Hollywood, a few bookshelves attached to an art gallery in Asheville, or grabbing one of the few English-language crime novels from a store in Istanbul or a hostel swap and buy bookshelf in Bariloche, or a Russian-language Kiwi crime novel for a friend in downtown St Petersburg - bookstores have definitely added an extra layer of interest to my many travel adventures.

Chain stores, independents, airport bookstores, secondhand bookshops - I'll browse them all. Though I have my favourites, of course. What do I like and look for? A great, diverse selection, knowledgeable and passionate staff, and a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere are key things for me. And with my passion for crime fiction, of course I care about how well the shop supports the genre and its wide range of excellent authors (beyond the big-name bestsellers), including Kiwi crime writers.

So I'm pleased to share that one of my favourite bookstores, Page & Blackmore in Nelson, has just won the 2014 Nielsen Award for New Zealand Bookshop of the Year. Every time I go back to visit friends and family in my childhood hometown, I make a point to pop into Page & Blackmore. It's a lovely store, with a diverse selection of books and great staff. There's a terrific New Zealand section, with plenty of our own crime and thriller titles included, as well as some lesser-known small publisher and self-published books by local authors. It's clear the owners and staff just love books, and it's a nice place to browse in and buy from.

I've had a few chats to the staff there over the years and they're great people. Make sure you check out the store if you're ever in Nelson. It's an old-fashioned bookstore, and I mean that as a great compliment.

You can read the Nelson Mail story about Page & Blackmore's recent award (the third time they've won best bookstore in New Zealand) here. The store is also heavily involved with the literary part of the Nelson Arts Festival later this year, which I understand will have some crime fiction content for the first time!

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