From the Shop Floor: Lamplight Books

Parnell bookstore Lamplight Books was recently crowned Bookshop of the Year at the Aotearoa Book Trade Industry Awards. We asked Melanie and Courtney to give us the inside scoop on their business, what they’re recommending this month, and more!

Give us a one-paragraph history of your shop.

Friends and booksellers Melanie O’Loughlin and Courtney Smith dreamt up Lamplight Books back in 2020 and opened the doors in June 2021. We wanted to provide a beautiful, browsable space filled to the ceiling with books for our neighbourhood to enjoy. We exist to foster discourse and find ways to think differently about the world and what we read about it.

What are you recommending this month?

We recommend anything that fits the reader’s brief, but we always love to sell books about things that make children and parents laugh—The First Case by Ulf Nilsson. And books that make us a little kinder—Tale of the Tiny Man by Barbro Lindgren or Wutaryoo by Nilah Magruder. And books that make us more knowledgeable—A History of Words for Children by Mary Richards.

What new releases are you looking forward to over the next few months?

The Observologist by Giselle Clarkson and Ringakōreko/Dazzlehands by Sacha Cotter & Josh Morgan.

Courtney, left, holding the Bookshop of the Year Award, and Melanie, right.

What’s a nice story you have about matching a book to a customer/reader?

We have a great family who live close by and we have been part of their daughter’s struggle with reading—we turned her onto graphic novels to ease the pressure and to help with simple decoding the meaning of words and pictures, and now she has switched to chapter books and is reading whole series at a time.

We exist to foster discourse and find ways to think differently about the world and what we read about it

What do you wish publishers would publish?

Big format books for tween age boys—packed with sneaker head and sports facts…

What unique challenges/opportunities do you face in your business?

We get to switch people onto books and authors they might never have heard of….

The interior of Lamplight Books

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about things you care about, events you have planned, new initiatives, complaints, compliments, anything?

We’re pretty happy to have won Best Bookshop—from the moment we opened, we knew that the people in our community would be the key to our survival, and it has been great listening to them and putting together events from the people in our neighbourhood for the people in our neighbourhood.