Thursday, February 17, 2011

New Zealand's oldest bookstore in strife

Just a day after Borders filed for bankruptcy in the US, New Zealand book retailer Whitcoulls has gone into voluntary administration. There's no common ownership between the two companies, but the problems they face are similar.

Whitcoulls is one of New Zealand's oldest companies. It began in Christchurch as Whitcombe & Tombs, one of the first companies to be registered under the Companies Act of 1882. In 1973 it was renamed Whitcoulls, after a merger with another company.

As a child, growing up in a country town with little in the way of books for sale, a visit to Whitcombe and Tombs (and yes, this was so long ago that the company still had its old name) in Auckland or Wellington was a huge treat. For purely sentimental reasons, I'd be sad to see those stores close down; all the more so since Whitcoulls now has my e-books on their website. But survival in the age of Amazon, particularly with the high price of books in New Zealand, will be a real challenge.


  1. My husband and I heard about the earthquake last night, I hope you and your family are fine! Praying for you!

  2. Joelene, thanks so much for your concern. Yes, we're fine - we're in the North Island, well away from the earthquake. But it's heartbreaking to watch what's happening in Christchurch, a city we have many ties to.