Rehoming 20,000 books

Changing times . . . Stafford St bookseller Richard West has the mammoth task of selling or re-homing about 20,000 books by the end of this month. PHOTO: BRENDA HARWOOD

Dunedin bookseller Richard West is a man on a mission – to sell or find new homes for 20,000 books.

With his lease at 6 Stafford St finishing at the end of July, Mr West has three weeks in which to clear out the large former tavern space.

“It’s a daunting task, and I’m very keen to avoid filling a skip with books,” he said.

“So far, I have been able to give books to the Regent Theatre folk and the Hospice Shop, and I am holding a half-price sale all this month.”

Along with selling and donating as many books, tables, and shelves as possible, he is also hoping to find places to store some of the collection.

Mr West is also hoping that local businesses, cafes, or organisations might consider hosting a “wall of books” at their premises, which he could maintain. A pop-up shop may also be on the cards.

A man with a big heart, Mr West has provided a hub for local book fans for the past five years, and has also supported charitable organisations.

The thousands of books have been divided into sections, including books sold on commission for fellow collectors.

Mr West has also run a section dedicated to raising funds for the Fred Hollows Foundation – an international charity which works to eliminate blindness among poor populations across the globe.

“I decided when I began that, if I was going to have a book shop, I wanted it to have a charity component,” Mr West said.

The concept has proven to be an effective fundraiser, and Mr West has been able to give about $22,000 to the Fred Hollows Foundation since 2013.

Mr West also has a close relationship with the nearby Hospice Shop, on Bond St, regularly spending time sorting and re-stocking the shelves.

After the Stafford St store closes, Mr West plans to continue his work for the Hospice Shop, while considering his options for the future.

“It will still involve books – gathering and sorting them is quite a fixation,” he said.

He thanked all his customers, fellow collectors, and volunteers for their support at the store.

“I have been very lucky to have the support of about 30 volunteers over the past five years – I’m grateful for that.

“People still have a lot of love for books.”

The book store at 6 Stafford St will be open from 11am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, and 10am to 1.30pm, Saturday and Sunday, until the end of July.