Largest second-hand bookseller right here

Vast collection . . . Hard to Find Books Dunedin manager Blaze Forbes browses in one of six book-filled public spaces at the Dowling St second hand book store. PHOTO: BRENDA HARWOOD

With 500,000 books in its catalogue, and customers around the world, the largest second-hand book retailer in New Zealand is right here in Dunedin.

Occupying a large two-storey space in Dowling St, Hard to Find Books is owned by Warwick Jordan, who has been in the second-hand book game for the past 37 years.

Presently based in Auckland, where he is temporarily running the Auckland branch of Hard to Find Books, Mr Jordan said both shops had closed to the public during Covid-19 lockdown.

As for many businesses, times had been tough, but he was thankful for the Government wage subsidy for staff, the support of his Dunedin landlord, and for the efforts of a staff member, who had gone “above and beyond” to keep online sales ticking over.

“It has been quite a big challenge, but we will survive,” Mr Jordan said.

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic had made exporting books to international clients complicated, and much slower than usual, but staff were “battling on”.

“We have had incredible support from our local customers, who have been coming in and buying lots of books.”

Hard to Find Books Dunedin manager Blaze Forbes said the team was sending out hundreds of books every day, across New Zealand and around the world.

The store also enjoyed “steady foot traffic”, which was a good way for staff to offer face-to-face service and suggest titles and authors.

“Having such a broad clientele through the internet side of the business means we are able to stock books that are very obscure and specific know there is a market for them,” Mr Forbes said.

Having survived in business for 37 years, including the Global Financial Crisis in 2008, Mr Jordan is expecting the full impact of Covid-19 to become apparent in about six months.

“This time next year we will know the full situation, so we are taking appropriate steps to hunker down and be ready,” he said.

However, the store remained interested in buying people’s book collections, offering a service where staff would visit people at home to box up and remove books.

“We get quite a lot of books from people downsizing, or from deceased estates, which can be very upsetting for people,” Mr Jordan said.

“So, we do our best to give support and advice, and to make things as stress free as possible.”

Hard to Find Books is operating on winter hours, from Wednesday to Saturday, 10.45am to 5.15pm.