Thursday, March 6, 2008

You Can't Tell a Book by It's Cover

But you can certainly tell a city by its bookstores. In our travels to cities all over the world you can easily judge the degree of literacy and interest in reading by the number and type of book stores you find. As you know from a travel article I wrote recently, if I am not traveling I enjoy buying and reading travel books. Sometimes the finding of bookstores, especially used bookstores will depend on whether it is a university “city”.

Wellington has two very large university’s which are Victoria University with about 20,000 students and Massey University, with nearly 40,000 students on their four campuses throughout New Zealand. This, I am sure, adds to the bookstore availability here in Wellington. The country has two major general interest bookstores. The largest is Whitcoulls. This chain seems to be everywhere and some of their stores are very large. The competition is Dymocks which is located in Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong. There are 64 stores in the chain and it is unusual as all are independent as franchisees. For the American presence there is a very large Borders on Lambton Quay. When comparing travel literature departments, even within a chain it is amazing what is and what is not available.

And then you can find in Wellington a wealth of specialty bookstores. The largest used bookstore is Arty Bees Books. And then the plethora of the little guys – Christian books, quilting bookstores, children’s books and it goes on and on. I particularly like the title of the Moby Dickens Bookstore. The yellow pages show over 60 different bookstore names, not counting their branches (Whitcoulls has eleven branches in the Wellington area).

Quirky Living Note: There is a café style here, and even in some nice restaurants, where all the ordering is done at the counter, you are then given a numbered table stand, and then the food and drinks are subsequently delivered to your table when ready. This even happened when we had breakfast in an all day breakfast café. It sure cuts down on labor, and the need to tip! The system is even used by Starbucks, so no standing around and wondering if it is your café mocha that is sitting on the counter.

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