Originally from the USA, Susan has managed several gift shops in Wellington, including a branch of Shut the Front Door. “Where I went to university in the States, students would hang out in the bookshop during the day, and at a bar at night.
“I want to create a space where students and staff feel welcome to come and chat with us, while buying their essential textbooks and anything else they happen to find.”
John is based in Auckland, and the new store here at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington will be his fifth campus bookshop, with two at Massey University (Palmerston North and Albany campuses), one at Lincoln University, and one at Waikato University.
“We now have textbooks on their way, thanks to the information we’ve received from Faculty members. We can’t wait to welcome our staff and students,” says John.
Both of Susan’s children studied at Te Herenga Waka, and they enjoyed Vic Books while here. “I’ve been talking to a diverse group of students about what they want from this space, and we are taking their feedback on board. As well as textbooks and stationery, we’ll be trialling a variety of things: healthy snacks, giftware, and cards.”
John says, “The unique thing about all university booksellers is that our customer base is very defined. We act as the conduit between the academic and student fraternity.
“In Waikato, for instance, our store is heavily influenced by the topics taught. They have a large Māori department, so this is the flavour of our stock beyond textbooks. In Lincoln, the textbooks are about the land. The point of difference for Campus Books Kelburn is how distant it is from the city—this will influence what we stock as far as retail items beyond books go.”
John and Susan are keen to build relationships with staff members who have written books, and are willing to host book launches. “If you have a book coming out, please come and tell us—our publishers will usually indicate this when we are purchasing books, but we’d love to build this relationship directly,” says John.
Susan’s focus will be primarily on the student experience. “I want to manage a place that reflects the energy of the students around us. We want to have people come in for a textbook, and leave as well with something that reflects them.”
The store will have three part-time members of staff supporting Susan. It will open on 12 June.