This week a little piece of Byron died when esoteric bookshop Abraxas closed its doors for the last time.
Betty Sternberg, Abraxas’s owner and operator for the 17 years of its life, is remarkably philosophical about the bookshop’s closure.
‘Being the end of the lease we had to decide whether to continue or let it go. After 17 years we decided to let it go,’ she said.
‘Everything has a beginning and an end but it seemed like an appropriate time to end. I would have wound up in debt and struggling too hard. I think this year is going to be even tougher than any other year,’ she added.
Betty says the combination of online shopping, the low Australian dollar and the rise of e-readers is affecting the industry.
‘Most retailers are feeling the pinch but it’s even more so with books. I think it’s the end of an era for independents – it’s too hard to compete. The internet has changed everything and e-readers are double trouble for us.’
Betty says even famous esoteric bookshops such as Adyar in Sydney and The Bodhi Tree in LA are closing.
Still unpacking books from the store, Betty has no idea what she will do next.
‘It’s interesting that this is happening everywhere,’ she says.
‘Maybe it’s time for people to go inward and put into practice what they’ve learned from their books.’