Meryll Williams of Rainy Day Books (Australia)


All of my life I have been a book collector and all of my adult life I wanted to open a second hand bookshop. I settled for school librarian and continued collecting and started a mail order catalogue which worked well for 15 years. I left my job and started selling books through markets and also a stall in a mixed antique business. I decided at the age of 60 that if I didn’t open a shop very soon it would be too late and started looking for premises. After several fruitless months I found the perfect place 5 minutes from my home.

Rainy Day Books changed from mail order/internet/market stall to a fully fledged bookshop. That was 3 years ago and every day is still wonderful. The shop is too small of course but I try and keep a full range of stock and weed out constantly to keep the stock fresh. Open 6 days a week with customers comprising half locals and half tourists. I am constantly amazed at the wonderful stock that is brought in and offered to me. It is a very friendly shop with a couch for curling up for a read or a chat and customers soon become friends. Even well behaved dogs are welcome. I had many years searching experience as an acquisitions librarian so I spend a lot of my time ordering elusive titles. I also compile bibliographies and biographies and try and fill wants lists for enthusiasts.

I recently was part of a dealer’s book fair held in the area with 14 booksellers. Called Mountains of Books as we are in the Dandenong Ranges tourist area 1 hours drive from Melbourne. We really advertised widely and had a steady stream of satisfied customers and happy book dealers over the weekend.

I chat about books on local radio and keep involved in all local happenings. I have one set window display with 12-15 books on glass shelves but in the other side I change it to reflect seasons, holidays, themes and many people tell me how nice it looks. I really enjoy helping children find something they will enjoy reading and getting adults to broaden their interests and not just read the same few authors all the time. My personal collecting preference are English authors who wrote mostly between the 2 world wars, such as Warwick Deeping, John Buchan and others. I also enjoy a good murder mystery and Henkell Manning is my current passion.

I hope to keep on running the shop until retirement and that looks a long way away as I am enjoying my working day too much to want to stop. I would love to empty all the books stored at my home into the shop but I feel I would need a second shop to fit them all in. My husband is happy to take that project on but I think we are lucky that this one is working so well in an area where bookshops both new and second hand are closing down all the time.

Like most dealers I don’t believe I will become a millionaire but to be able to do something I love every day with congenial people to talk to a time to read in the afternoon if I am lucky is heaven.

The Standard: The Journal of the Independent Online Booksellers Association

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