Books & Literature

Dymocks Grand Opening draws in book lovers from all over Adelaide

Rundle Mall’s beloved bookstore has reopened in a brilliant, historic new location.

Can there be a better way to spend a balmy autumn evening in Adelaide than to attend the Grand Opening of the new Dymocks bookshop in the Regent Theatre, Rundle Mall?

The affair began when this correspondent received an email from Dymocks’ head office in Sydney inviting him, as a Gold Booklover, to the Grand Opening. As I suffer from literary constipation (a curious affliction in which one cannot pass a book shop), I was delighted to attend.

Although the shop had been open since nine that morning, a curious crowd assembled at the main doors just before six in the evening, to be ushered up an escalator and into a refurbished, repainted and repurposed Regent Theatre. Dymocks have used the old Hoyts space to maximum advantage, with shelves and book carrels that mimic the plaster arches retained along the walls. Immediately upon entering, one’s eyes are drawn to the magnificent ceiling, upon which the old theatre plasterwork and roses have been tastefully repainted in pastels. The space retains its cinematic shape, with the Bio Box holes still in evidence high on one wall, and the paraphernalia of the screen (albeit without the screen) standing opposite.

Wine, bubbles and beer were presented to all upon escalation and we were free to browse, to investigate and to get to know the new space (note: book shopping while drinking sparkling wine is something this correspondent can heartily endorse). Just under half the floor space is devoted to racks of books, both fiction and non-fiction, while the rest is filled with a central counter, a lift, a small event space, and the inevitable gear that infests every modern bookshop: stationery, diaries, pens and sundry other things one could buy elsewhere.

The reason for this split is not apparent but it has its cost; while all genres of book are still stocked, the shelf space devoted to them is smaller. For example, the new store has a markedly smaller sci-fi/fantasy section than the old, a fact remarked upon by several people within my earshot. Likewise, the non-fiction shelves have similarly shrunk, with less space devoted to perennial favourites such as military, automotive and history when compared to the previous store. The children’s section, which used to occupy the lower floor, now occupies a corner.

But the proof of the pudding is, as they say, in the eating, and this correspondent found much to interest him and buy (as part of the Grand Opening, a discount of 20% was applied to all purchases.) The shelves may be smaller, but they are thoughtfully stocked and it is reasonable to expect that the curation of them, so carefully done in the Dymocks of the past, will continue.

After some browsing, the speeches began. Unfortunately we could not meet the new manager who, with spectacular timing, recently contracted COVID-19. In his place, the speeches were given by Dymocks’ Marketing Manager and Managing Director, both of whom were confident that this new store will become a destination for all South Australian book lovers.

If the general positive feeling of the crowd is anything to go by, it certainly will.

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