PostHeaderIcon The Book Run


When my married daughter who lives nearby, asks me what I would like for my birthday, I invariably reply, ‘Let’s do a book run!’

We set out early, in time to be at our chosen destination by the time the shops open. This could be fifty or sixty kilometres away. We only repeat journeys if there has been a request for more books.

Susan is the driver. I navigate us to the Post Office or newsagent. She parks close by. The first time that day, she bullies me. She knows it takes a lot of gumption to flog my books, especially one titled ‘Sex in Your Seventies.’
‘Go on, Mum,’ she orders, ‘out you go. Get in there. You can do it!’ And I proceed. I have my neat little bag in hand, with five books in a bundle, my price list and ‘the deal’. I also have tucked in the bag a copy of the marvellous photo that was in ‘Women’s Health’ magazine in April. And the page from the Weekend Australian where Jane Fraser discussed, with some acerbity but wonderful wit, the contents of SIYS that someone had sent to her.

I start my spiel immediately I have the attention of the proprietor. They are always interested and hear me out. Sometimes I am back in the car quite quickly and Susan presumes it was a knock-back.
‘No luck?’ she queries.
‘Sold five,’ I will often reply as I produce the cheque, or sometimes the cash from my nervous fist.

In a lot of cases, the owner is absent, which means no sale. Country Post offices are always interested and will photocopy the articles to display with the books. The newsagents are sometimes more interested in me personally, especially when I tell them how old I am. They say they don’t believe it, not eighty-two! You only look in your sixties! Do you practice what you preach? You have a younger man? Doreen, you’re a cougar!

‘I am indeed a cougar!’ I reply. By this time, I am fairly certain there will be a sale, and the owner finds her cheque-book. It is smiles all round as I tell them they must read the book first, then tell their customers about it, that it is not smut (although some folk will not purchase it upon being told that) but just a ‘good read’, entertaining and informative, but not a ‘how to’ book.

‘This is wowser country...’ I am often told, ‘We would never sell any.’ But they would like a copy for themselves or for a gift. So I let them have it for the wholesale price and wish them well. It is nice to return to the car with some sort of sale.

I pack an adequate and nutritious lunch that we enjoy in a likely park where there are toilets. We only go on a book run if it is a pleasant, sunny day. We might make seven or eight calls, and we like to stock up on local fruit and vegetables if possible...or Schulte’s wurst at Plainlands.

I would really like to have a camper-van and go on a little holiday, seeing the country, selling my books along the way. Say, for a week or so. It would probably pay for the petrol or more. But some people do not like the idea of being with a salesman and will not participate. Susan has a family and can only spare a day. I am waiting...