Chris and Em’s Excellent Adventure

People work in bookshops for the love of it, and there was plenty of that to go around on Saturday 10th August when our Carlton store got well and truly mobbed.

Readings Carlton, 10am, sometime in July. Two female employees spin around on their chairs in joyful synchronicity.

“Let’s do something really fun for National Bookshop Day. We should have a flashmob!”

“…Could we really do that?”

“I don’t know. What do you think?”

“I reckon we could.”

‘We could?“


[Both women stop spinning their chairs]

“Are you serious?”

“We’re doing it.”

“Oh my god. We are? You’re kidding. We can’t!”

“It was your idea!”

“It was?”

Proving that spinning in office chairs should only be done under strict supervision, Events Manager Chris Gordon and Children’s Buyer Emily Gale found themselves in possession of a large and unwieldy idea and one single mantra: this is going to be fun.

The plan was to break into song in the Carlton store on Saturday 10th as a surprise to any customers who happened to be shopping there at the time. The song would be dedicated to them – a heartfelt if slightly out-of-tune thank you for keeping bookshops alive and kicking (and even singing) in difficult times.

Emails were sent out urging local authors to join in. We couldn’t possibly tell you which two Children’s and YA authors it was who volunteered within the first hour - no, wait, we can: it was the fabulous Fiona Wood and Gabrielle Wang and we love them for it. Many other yes’s followed, as well as a few reluctant no’s from authors who were already booked up (never mind, we’ll get you next time).

A brilliant young singer-actor agreed to take the lead for us (Viv Awosoga – watch out for her in the future), while music specialist Paul Barr and shop manager at the State Library store Tom Hoskins were very gently persuaded to accompany us on guitar, or else face the wrath of two desperate women. With trusted film-maker David Collopy on board, seemingly as excited as we were (we believe he also spins on office chairs), and more and more volunteers coming on board from the writing community and local choirs, the unwieldy idea began to look a little more, well, wieldy!

So on Saturday 10th, 9.30am, at the Readings warehouse, 50 people (about half of them authors) gathered for the first and only rehearsal. The moment everyone joined in for the chorus, Chris and Em compared goosebumps and fell about laughing as they realised it was really and truly happening and not simply a figment of their dubious imaginations.

An hour and a half later, those 50 people were walking through the store that has been an important part of the local landscape since 1969, singing their bloody hearts out to the Hunters and Collectors classic, 'Throw Your Arms Around Me’. We finished our performance outside the store in the glorious Melbourne winter sunshine. By then we couldn’t tell which singers were authors, which were our fabulous choir volunteers and which were customers or passers-by who felt moved to sing along. Talk about a giant love-in.

The film-clip of the event will be available soon. In the meantime, Chris and Em would like to thank every single person who was involved in the making of the flashmob, on behalf of Readings. It was an excellent adventure for us and we sincerely hope it was fun for you.

We have been spinning on our chairs again this week… More surprises lining up for 2014!

kidsmob Part of the Kids-and-YA Mob! L-R top row: Emily Gale, Cath Crowley, Fiona Wood, Kim Kane, AJ Betts, Marion Roberts, Skye Melki-Wegner, Michael Wagner. L-R middle: row Amy Han, Lili Wilkinson, Gabrielle Wang, Nansi Kunze, Jane Godwin. L-R bottom row: Nicki Greenberg, Andrew Weldon.