Three generations of the Dallow family have worked in the store, (from left) Avalon, Faith and Kay. (ABC Radio Brisbane: Loretta Ryan)
After trading for more than 50 years and being a family’s pride and joy spanning three generations, one of Brisbane’s iconic bookstores is closing its doors.
Many commuters drop by Boswells Books in Ashgrove each day, either while driving along busy Waterworks Road or catching a bus from the stop in front of the store.
The small bookstore has been a treasure trove for book lovers, stocking rare classics through to the latest in science fiction.
Owner Kay Dallow said it was not an easy decision to make, but that it was time for the family to take a break after trading seven days a week for decades.
“It’s quite sad actually. We’ve had a lovely life here and we love the books, but it’s the right time,” she said.
The rise of e-readers and people wanting books immediately had impacted sales, she said.
“People come in with their books and we would buy them from people wanting to sell their books, yet many people have been donating their books as they have their e-readers now.”
A family affair
Ms Dallow’s daughter Faith also worked in the store and said it was more than just a bookstore for the community.
“My children grew up here and worked here; it’s like their second home,” she said.
“I had many of my kids strapped to my chest while I was stacking the shelves here.”
The bookstore has been part of Ashgrove for more than 50 years. (ABC Radio Brisbane: Loretta Ryan)
Grand-daughter Avalon had similar sentiments on closing the doors.
“The store has been so important to me and so many big events have happened for me here too.”
The Dallows took over the store in 1997, when one particular genre of novels dominated the titles on offer.
“When we bought the store, it was mainly Mills & Boon books — lots and lots of romance books,” Kay Dallow said.
“We decided to add more bookshelves and offer more variety of other titles.
“Sci-fi fantasy and crime have been the most popular genres now; women especially like true crime novels.”
Books going to another home
With so many books to move, the family has decided to donate the remaining books to aged care homes and charities.
“We want to see the books keep on keeping on and bringing joy to others,” she said.
“We really do have millions, nearly squillions of books — there’s containers full of them.”
Ms Dallow said the store had always been open to anyone who needed a book or a chat.
“We’ve always had acceptance here as we’re a quirky mob as well, and many people have told us it’s been a hub for the community,” she said.
“I had never really thought about the store like that before … people have said they’re really going to miss us.”
Kay Dallow will donate the books to aged care homes around Brisbane. (ABC Radio Brisbane: Loretta Ryan)
For the love of a tactile book
Jan Healey, a customer for more than 10 years, said she liked having so many titles to choose from.
“You could come and find things you wouldn’t imagine,” she said.
“I’m really going to miss it, as it was an institution for such a long time.”
Neil Williams was another customer who spent time in the bookstore each week.
“I think there’s something tactile and pleasant about reading an actual book,” he said.
“I’ve been coming to the store for more than 20 years, and I guess I’ll be reading more on e-readers now.”
As the store’s final chapter reaches its conclusion, Ms Dallow said friendships were what she would miss most.
“We’ve had so many people come in and upset that we’re leaving — I didn’t realise we were such a big deal in people’s lives.”
While you’re here… are you feeling curious?