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Getting cosy at Books Plus in Bathurst

While Loani Prior’s latest book How Tea Cosies Changed the World (Murdoch) has attracted the attention of the Diagram Prize for its delightfully odd title, back in 2010 Andrew Wrathall investigated an odd tea cosy craze hitting bookshops …

One of the more unusual in-store events of recent months [during Winter 2010] has been inspired by Loani Prior’s new book Really Wild Tea Cosies (Murdoch). Books Plus in Bathurst, NSW, generated lots of buzz around the book’s release by holding a competition for the wildest tea cosy.

The competition was simple: entrants were required to make their own tea cosy (either their own design or something from Loani Prior’s books), give it a name (a very important step), and submit it to the store for display and judging.

Books Plus ran an advertisement in the local paper for three and a half weeks encouraging submissions. Flyers promoting the competition were also distributed in the shop and posted in the windows, along with a counter display of Loani Prior books and entry forms. ‘We also took entry forms to other shops around town, including craft shops and local cafes,’ says bookseller Jenny Barry. ‘We contacted local aged-care facilities to let them know about the competition. Two of these responded by organising their craft groups to enter multiple cosies for the competition.’

The response to the competition was overwhelming, says Barry. ‘We had a total of 42 entries and had trouble fitting them all in the window. The display looked stunning, and coupled with the amazing array of other cosies, was a visual feast. The local paper took photos of the window without us having to contact them, and once they went in the paper so many people milled around at the front of the shop and commented on how great it looked.’

The winning entrant received a voucher for ‘Tea for Two’ at the local patisserie, donated by Books Plus. In addition, over 100 customers voted in the competition for the people’s choice awards, with a selection of morning teas and craft books donated by Murdoch Books and Simon & Schuster up for grabs.

‘We sold a lot of Loani’s books in the period of the competition, but more importantly, the interest it generated and the buzz created around town was fantastic. We feel there is a definite resurgence in the tea cosy, and Loani can be credited with much of that,’ says Barry.

Barry is already thinking about another idea for next winter. ‘We’d definitely recommend doing something like this again,’ she says. ‘Our advice would be to keep it as simple as possible. We sat down and nutted out all the steps before we began, and feel that’s really important so you know exactly what you’ve got to get sorted and what the end result will be. Keeping staff in the loop is also really important. As well, having someone with an eye for making a gorgeous window is a must (our Lea Wilkin did a fabulous job). Next time we would make sure everyone bought their own teapot to use, as we had to improvise a bit.’

This article was originally published in the September 2010 edition of Books+Publishing.



Category: Features