Favourite book store has reopened its doors

7th December 2017 8:00 AM
STORY ROOM: John Mitchell with staff members Sarah Cipriano and Anke Bueter STORY ROOM: John Mitchell with staff members Sarah Cipriano and Anke Bueter Christian Morrow

THE story behind the sudden closure and surprise re-opening of one of Byron Bays' best-loved bookshops has a happy ending after all.

John Mitchell and Karen Martin, former owners of Mary Ryan's bookshop in Byron Bay, are back in the same location trading as The Book Room at Byron, just in time for Christmas.

After reaching an impasse with the former franchise owner the couple closed the much-loved store suddenly on October 31, hastily packing up roughly $700,000 worth of stock into 1000 boxes to vacate the store.

When news got out, the local Byron literati were aghast at losing the iconic shop, that was also an integral partner with the Byron Writers Festival.

"There were a number of people in the community who were concerned that the bookshop was to close and made direct contact with the franchisor," Mr Mitchell said.

One of those who stepped in was local real estate agent and founding chair of the Byron Writers Festival, Chris Hanley.

"Chris basically did what he does best and approached the franchisor to see if he could broker a deal on our behalf," Mr Mitchell said.

Mr Hanley's efforts bore fruit with John and Karen together with the regular staff back at the same location with their huge selection of books.

"The advice we received in the past was to stay very current and just stock best sellers but what we heard from the community is they wanted the exact opposite," he said.

The Book Room at Byron also stocks a range of self published books by local authors.

"It's important to keep these books because when someone comes in and says give me your Byron books we can sell them a copy of Prawners Down Under by Brian Bienke who wrote his memoir after being a prawner all his life or the Roundabout at Bangalow by Shirley Walker," he said.

"All the way through our bookshop has been about breadth of offering and a depth of work."