Wednesday, May 22, 2024
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Community Hub at Next Chapter in Wānaka

Wānaka’s Next Chapter independent bookstore has bedded down after two years in business and is recognised as an important part of the cultural life of the Southern Lakes drawing clientele from all over the region from Glenorchy to Clyde, Arrowtown and Queenstown.

Not prepared for retirement, long-time friends Jenny Ainge and Sally Battson made their first adventure into retailing in 2020 and have been overwhelmed by the response to what is much more than just a book shop.

 Jenny comes from a career in TV and radio and has completed a post graduate study in English literature. She is devoted to the English female writers of the 1950s and 1960s and an avid reader of international newspapers, magazines and particularly book reviews.

Previously manager of a large medical practice in Wānaka for 15 years Sally’s background is in teaching and she has a comprehensive knowledge of children’s literature and reads across a wide cross section of genres including crime, biography and classic and contemporary fiction.

“We hope our books will introduce people to  some of the best local, national, and international writers and renew their passion for the classic favourites,” says Sally. “ We have an excellent collection of contemporary New Zealand and international writing as well as beautiful books on the natural world, the arts, architecture and gardens. There are titles on climate change, economics and the diversity of our modern world along with leading selections on mountaineering, science, food and wine. Our young people’s section includes a special collection of classic children’s books and the latest young adult fiction titles.”

As a small independent operation The Next Chapter enhances the experience for book buyers.

“In particular we can provide in-depth book knowledge which customers appreciate,” says Jenny. “ We can discuss different titles and authors with them and often people browsing will offer recommendations as well. We love this interaction and the store can be quite the meeting spot.”

“People always find something fresh on the shelves as we have a good turnover of stock. We get feedback that we are one of the best independent bookstores in New Zealand because of our diversity of titles. We have a strong online presence with overseas buyers regularly purchasing books for their families back home.”

An expansion of the small container shop in the popular Brownston Street enclave is planned and Sally and Jenny are upbeat about the extra space particularly for housing the developing children’s section.

“We are enjoying the growth in our business and have lots of ideas. There is even the thought of initiating reading and writing tours some time in the future. But that’s for another chapter.”

Book Clubs & Events

The Next Chapter book clubs have a strong following with one focused on fiction and two devoted to non-fiction reading.

The fiction club has monthly meetings while the non-fiction groups meet every two months. 

 “The second non-fiction group concentrates on the environment and nature writing which has a lot of appeal,” says store owners Jenny Ainge and Sally Battson.

Book launches, author talks, children’s storytelling and other cultural events are held regularly spearheaded by The Next Chapter’s increasing role as an integral part of the community.

“The Southern Lakes is continuing to develop as an arts and cultural centre and we want to be part of that. Our close links with neighbouring Cinema Paradiso allow us to use it as a venue for events and book club meetings and the area is certainly becoming a cultural hub.”

Next Chapter Team

  • Caroline Harker has been part of the New Chapter team from the outset and has a background in film making and journalism. She has a preference for New Zealand literature and is well versed about new book releases while curating the store’s cooking and garden collections.
  • Australian Sarah Clark is a link to the younger members in the community and has an extensive knowledge of fantasy, YA and romance novels. A talented social media photographer she is the go to person for new releases and other genres.
  • Alex Walton, also from Australia, has a master’s degree in health and nutrition and is a part-time librarian at the Wanaka and Hawea libraries. She is an informed and helpful guide in the children and young people’s fiction section.

Top Title Picks for Winter

July:  The It Girl by Ruth Ware

August:  The Ink Black Heart by Robert Galbraith

September: The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell 

October :  The Passenger by Cormac McCarthy