12 May 2020: Many businesses are having to rethink their business model now that bricks and mortar retailing has taken such a hit, and many have ramped up their online presence far quicker than they may have planned. Just over a year ago we spoke with Mark Rubbo about the mix of trade in his shops and online at Readings, and he had some interesting things to say back then.
The following article and video were originally published on 1 November 2018.
Mark Rubbo has headed up independent bookstore chain, Readings, for close to half a century. We sat down with him at the recently upgraded State Library Victoria store to talk shop.
Despite the launch of Amazon and e-books that heralded a cheaper, easier way to purchase books, Mark Rubbo is still in business.
What’s the secret to his staying power – and indeed, business expansion – when other bookstores have struggled to survive?
It all comes down to approachable, knowledgeable staff, a carefully curated book list and managing shops that build a sense of community.
The managing director of Readings was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 2006 for service to the community and support of Australian writers and publishing.
Mark is also giving back to the community through the The Readings Foundation, which ensures 10 per cent of all Readings’ profits go to projects in the community, literacy and the arts.
In 2016 Readings won the ‘International Bookstore of the Year’ award at the London Book Fair – a ringing endorsement of the value of independent bookshops.
Click on the video to hear Mark’s business story.