In the competitive world of book and music retailing, massive international organisations dominate the marketplace. Their products are predominantly geared towards the mass market and the self-serve philosophy has become the norm. It is refreshing to find that a very successful Australian business is thriving on being different, catering to the tastes of their local communities.
Readings was founded in 1969 by Ross Reading, his partner Dot and Peter Reid. The original shop in Lygon Street was partly funded by Dot’s teaching wage. Readings is now a household name employing over 140 staff in five shops around Melbourne. Whilst being a large-scale operation, each Readings store retains an intimate feel with strong community ties. Their carefully selected ranges reflect the character of the local area and the tastes of their customers.
Readings has a renowned music department and is more recently known for its burgeoning DVD range. However, the business has an excellent reputation as one of Australia’s best bookshops. Managing Director Mark Rubbo, a former judge of the Miles Franklin Literary Award, is recognised as one of the book trade’s leading authorities. He was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for his services to Australian literature and bookselling.
Loved by the writing fraternity
Part of Readings’ success has been its thriving events program. It is not unusual to wander into a Readings store on a weekday evening to discover a book launch or reading in progress, wine glasses in hands and an author at the microphone. Readings also runs lively children’s events and an array of off-site events to accommodate the large crowds drawn by authors such as David Malouf and Peter Carey.
“Promoting Australian writing has always been a personal passion,” says Mark. “Our business has grown with the growth of Australian publishing.”
Readings is a gathering place for writers, publishers, artists and intellectuals. A veritable “who’s who” of Melbourne personalities are regular visitors and customers. The local writers’ community holds Readings in high esteem. “I’ve always wanted a Readings launch” is a commonly voiced ambition among aspiring writers.
Embracing the changing landscape
Readings were quick to recognise the potential of the emerging internet and by the early 1990s were selling online through a secure website. They continue to use the internet to their best advantage having recently launched a new website that is easily searchable, newsworthy and easy to shop on. They have plans to extend the site by publishing footage of their major author and music events online. Also, by including interesting interviews and music downloads from distributors and record labels, Readings will continue to use the internet to compliment their in-store experiences.
Saward Dawson and Readings
Saward Dawson has provided assurance and taxation solutions for Readings for the last 3 years in which time they have grown from 4 stores to 5 and with turnover increasing by over 30%. All this has been achieved in an increasingly competitive environment where larger international competitors are seeking rapid growth in the Melbourne market.
We have provided the directors with advice on topics ranging from capital restructuring to the implementation of Australian equivalents to the International Financial Reporting Standards.
The exceptional nature of Readings has been formally recognised. They won Australian Independent Bookseller of the Year 1998 & 2001. In 2006 they won both the Australian Chain Bookseller of the Year and the Age/D&B Business Award in the Retail Category. Readings is also the Official Bookseller for the Melbourne Writers’ Festival.
For a shopping experience that breaks the mould of stereotyped retailing, visit one of Readings’ stores at Carlton, Hawthorn, Malvern, Port Melbourne and St Kilda. Each one has its own distinct character. Alternatively, their website at www.readings.com.au is well worth a virtual-visit.