Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

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The Book Dispensary opens in Forbes, NSW

A new independent bookshop has opened in the town of Forbes, Central West NSW.

Owner Debbie Prior opened The Book Dispensary in early December and told Books+Publishing she ‘welcomed the opportunity to change direction’ after working for a pharmacy group in regional NSW for 23 years.

Married with three adult children and two grandchildren, Prior loved to travel until the pandemic, which forced her to cancel a European trip scheduled for August 2020. Subsequently, she said, The Book Dispensary ‘was probably three months from inception to opening—at the most’.

‘We’ve had a fantastic response from the local community who have all been very supportive and enthusiastic,’ said Prior. ‘We definitely hope to develop strong relationships with local schools, teachers, preschools and child care centres as well as working collaboratively with our local library. I’m hoping to host an information evening in the near future to discuss what The Book Dispensary will be doing in 2021 and to get feedback from our community.’

Forbes, which has a population of just over 8000 and is about five hours west of Sydney, was largely unaffected by the pandemic, and this has worked in the new bookshop’s favour. ‘Besides ensuring all Covid requirements are met in store there has not really been any real impact at this stage other than the slower delivery times around Christmas,’ said Prior.

During December the store had two full-time staff, including Prior. The store is now run by Prior and employs a staff member casually, however Prior said she would re-evaluate staffing needs later in the year.

The Book Dispensary’s physical retail space is ‘very big’, with one end sectioned off for book groups and events, and Prior said she plans to have the shop’s online store up and running later this year.

‘This has been a huge learning curve for me and I have had some wonderful help from Ruth Hipwell at Leading Edge and from publishing reps who have given me good advice and guidance,’ said Prior.


Category: Local news