Rockingham’s last speciality bookstore enters final chapter after 21 years

Chloe FraserSound Telegraph
Rockingham Books owner Jim Sewell.
Camera IconRockingham Books owner Jim Sewell. Credit: Chloe Fraser

Rockingham’s last speciality bookstore will close at the end of the month after more than 21 years.

Competing with the pressures of the digital age, online purchases, expiry of the store’s lease and high rent, Rockingham Books owner Jim Sewell said he had no other option but to cease trading.

“We were planning on trading on for the unforeseen future, but in the current environment the future was not overly secure and the decision was taken out of our hands,” he said.

“The book industry, like many other retailers trying to exist in bricks-and-mortar scenarios, is under a lot of pressure ... the largest pressure comes from the internet.

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“Anything that can be put in a box can be delivered to you, which short-circuits the scenario of having to pay rent and all the rest of it.

“Books basically copped a double whammy because there is the internet and there is also the e-book electronic side of it — people reading off tablets, devices or downloading.

“It’s sad after 21 years that we have no other option than to pack up and leave. We’d love to thank our staff and all our loyal customers over the 20-plus years and the great friends that we’ve established over that period of time.”

Mr Sewell said the store’s closure would leave a hole for local book-lovers.

“We’ve been the only specialty bookshop in Rockingham for many years,” he said.

“Apart from one in Mandurah Forum, it’s the only one between Perth and Bunbury, so it’s going to leave a little bit of a hole for the local populace, I think.”

Looking back over the past 21 years, Mr Sewell reflected on the many events the store had hosted.

“We had two enormously successful Jimmy Barnes signings and just recently we had Peter FitzSimons, author of the Catalpa book,” he said.

He said a signing event with Dr Harry Cooper once created a queue for about four hours in front of the shop.

Mr Sewell encouraged bookworms to make the most of the store’s closing down sale, which will continue until the end of the month, with 50 per cent off all stock.

He also encouraged people holding gift cards to redeem them urgently.

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