The Book Tree owner Ann Hewitt ... preparing to sell the store while concurrently putting in place plans to help customers beat the isolation blues.
The Book Tree owner Ann Hewitt ... preparing to sell the store while concurrently putting in place plans to help customers beat the isolation blues.

Shop looking at new chapter

THE Book Tree owner Ann Hewitt says one of the joys of owning a book store is "there's always something new on the horizon".

Despite 20 years in the industry, five at The Book Tree, she said she still got a thrill opening the delivery boxes, especially when new releases came in.

So, it's with mixed emotions that she is looking to sell the business, she tells Seniors News Toowoomba between customers.

Everyone is stocking up on books in case coronavirus forces shops to shut and people have to self-isolate, she explains of the especially busy morning. But she admits it is heartwarming that people are looking to books for comfort.

She said the decision to "put the sale out to the universe and see what happens" came after she and her husband lost their mothers last year within a few months of each other.

"It makes you reassess everything," she said.

With both working six days a week, in their early 60s and with four grandchildren whose lives they want to be a greater part of, she said the couple had decided it was "time to ease back a little bit".


The Book Tree owner Ann Hewitt.
The Book Tree owner Ann Hewitt.


However, originally from Sydney, and having lived in Toowoomba for about 20 years, Ann said she loved bookstore customers.

"People are always so nice, and you get to have really interesting conversations with interesting people from a diverse cross-section, so every day is different," she said.

With the shop going well and a year to run on the lease, Ann said it should be attractive to potential buyers, but the same factors meant there was no pressure to close if they didn't sell.

"Older clientele in particular really like that we are an independent book store not in a shopping centre; they like good customer service and that we can help them choose books, especially for grandkids," Ann said.

Even in the current crisis, she said in late March, she had plans to keep the store operational if the doors themselves had to close, by providing free deliveries within the 4350 postcode as well as taking mail orders.

Her suggestions for isolation reads for seniors include: Hillary Mantle's historic novel The Mirror and the Light (the final part of a trilogy), Irish crime novelist Dervla McTiernan's The Good Turn and Ariel Lawhon's story of Nancy Wake, Code Name Helene.

"We all need a laugh at the moment," so How Good's Australia - The Betoota Advocate is also on Ann's list of good reads, with Australia's oldest newspaper dissecting the last few turbulent years with tongue firmly in cheek.

"We've had three prime ministers in four years, a scandalous ball-tampering scandal … and, worst of all, the cancellation of both the NRL and AFL footy shows," the promo reads.

Coming up to Easter, Ann said, a lot of older customers liked to give a book along with a chocolate egg.

It kept both parents and grandkids happy, she said, with new titles for the littlies including Sue deGennaro'sEaster Days and Colin Buchanan's Australians All Love Easter Eggs. And blurring the lines between book and screen with a 3D mini-movie on each page, check out the latest "Photicular album", Outback - The Amazing Animals of Australia by Dan Kainen and Ella Morton. As for her own future, Ann said it was hard to know, but one thing was for sure: she was looking forward to more reading!

For details on the shop sale, phone Bryan Gray on 0414 568 936. For book tips, go to The Book Tree, 456 Ruthven St,, @TheBookTreeToowoomba on Facebook or phone 07 4632 4310.