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RIP Bob Gould
May 22, 2011 7:45 PM   Subscribe

The Sydney bookseller and Labor left-wing activist Bob Gould has died at the age of 74. His massive bookstore, Gould's Books, is a Sydney landmark. A massive archive of his political writings can be found online.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn (35 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by ryanshepard at 7:50 PM on May 22, 2011


What would my undergrad degree have been without Gould's?

I had no idea that he was such a prominent figure, no idea that he was anything other than a bibliophile.

I also had no idea that Goulds had an online shop.
Thanks LiB.
posted by robotot at 7:57 PM on May 22, 2011


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A lazy afternoon in Newtown just won't be the same without him. Time was, not a week would pass without my dropping in there at least once a week, generally leaving with a couple of random books to read.

He'll be sorely missed.
posted by not the fingers, not the fingers at 8:07 PM on May 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Although apparently I can't fairly claim dropping in that regularly aided my literacy one whit.
posted by not the fingers, not the fingers at 8:09 PM on May 22, 2011


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I've only been to Sydney twice but each visit has been made even lovelier by the many hours I've spent perusing his wonderful collection.

He will definitely be missed.
posted by BrianJ at 8:19 PM on May 22, 2011


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Wouldn't want to be the one tasked with clearing out the shop.
posted by bystander at 8:21 PM on May 22, 2011


Wouldn't want to be the one tasked with clearing out the shop.

His family are carrying on, so no worries on that front.
posted by mightygodking at 8:30 PM on May 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


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Gould's is such an institution; bought many a book there.

I did, however, consider him an arsehole for the way he'd turn up at the annual university book clearances & buy up masses of books - sight unseen - by the boxload, just to offload them at hugely marked-up prices to the same people who would've preferred to have found them in the first place for themselves.

But it's poor form to speak badly of the deceased, so, well, Bob's OK & I can forgive all that. If the book arcade gets passed on to somebody else, and they continue that practice, they can inherit the arsehole mantle.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:31 PM on May 22, 2011


to offload them at hugely marked-up prices

really more the fault of the universities getting rid of the books. I noticed Fisher is clearing away anything gathering a little dust to install a cafe.
posted by bystander at 8:34 PM on May 22, 2011


In management terms, they're just outsourcing the library offsite.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:38 PM on May 22, 2011


That's pretty standard bookseller tactics, UbuRoivas. It's crappy and pisses off the actual book lovers, but it goes on everywhere, sometimes planned out enough that people take with them bar code scanners and zip through the clearance books looking for those specific big-ticket items. A lot of book sales try to keep their eye out for people like that and kick them out.
posted by hippybear at 8:40 PM on May 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


Sad to hear. I'd like to say that Gould's as an institution will remain the same (I've been there a few times, but many many moons ago), but I have a feeling it won't be.
posted by tumid dahlia at 8:49 PM on May 22, 2011


I did, however, consider him an arsehole for the way he'd turn up at the annual university book clearances & buy up masses of books - sight unseen - by the boxload, just to offload them at hugely marked-up prices to the same people who would've preferred to have found them in the first place for themselves

I lived next to a library in the States that had a massive annual booksale. Even living literally next door I was still beaten by the hordes of booksellers that descended every morning of the sale. It's standard practice.

I wonder if that Whitlams line 'stoned in a bookstore, sober in a nightclub' was written about Goulds. Every time I drop in I'm stunned by how BIG it is, and I can barely wrap my head around it. I was able to find the Gene Wolf books I wanted fairly quickly, though.

I always take interstate and overseas visitors there, and they're always impressed.

BTW, any Sydney RPG fans reading this might be interested in all the Exalted hardcovers I've seen at Goulds for the past few months.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:55 PM on May 22, 2011


I have a feeling it won't be.

Coming soon: Gould's on King - prestige warehouse studio apartments, with the penultimate in modern designer lifestyle: walls creatively built out of recycled book "bricks".

Complete with cafe, thai takeaway, another cafe, mezzanine cafe, and in deference to the heritage of the warehouse, an Angus & Robertson Borders internet kiosk with direct broadband link to Amazon.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:57 PM on May 22, 2011 [6 favorites]


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posted by Sportbilly at 9:05 PM on May 22, 2011


Gould's on King...complete with cafe...

I hope that cafe has little half-frozen spinach-and-ricotta pastries at $12 a pop that I can enjoy with my iPad copy of The Telegraph while sitting on one of their Anülskada chairs from Ikea and derisively snorting at people who come in swinging their Audi fobs around like they're ben-wa balls.
posted by tumid dahlia at 9:10 PM on May 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I hope that cafe has little half-frozen spinach-and-ricotta pastries at $12 a pop that I can enjoy with my iPad copy of The Telegraph

No true Newtonian would read The Telegraph. At least not where people could see them.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:13 PM on May 22, 2011


What's a ben-wa ball?
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:14 PM on May 22, 2011


Y'know...for kids.
posted by tumid dahlia at 9:15 PM on May 22, 2011


No true Newtonian would read The Telegraph.

Yeah, I couldn't think of the other one. The SMH, of course.
posted by tumid dahlia at 9:16 PM on May 22, 2011


Yeah, I couldn't think of the other one. The SMH, of course.

Looks like this obit is one of their most popular stories today. Hooray for truth in stereotypes.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:18 PM on May 22, 2011


C'mon! Green Left Weekly, please!
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:18 PM on May 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Whenever I go to SMH, which is rarely, I just think it's The Age.
posted by tumid dahlia at 9:20 PM on May 22, 2011


Yeah, there's about a 90% overlap: same articles, blogs & all.

The only realy difference is in the logo, and anything remotely to do with AFL is put front-centre in the Age.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:23 PM on May 22, 2011


That bookstore was awesome. I hope they carry on.
posted by dhruva at 9:26 PM on May 22, 2011


I remember stumbling into Goulds books with my now ex girlfriend on a rainy Newtown afternoon and both us in awe of the ridiculous chaos of the bookstore. There was such an abundence of absurd, outdated and useless books, records and even VHS tapes it was comical. Near the back on the bottom floor is a window that is permentley broken open for the cat to come and go. Random piles of books seemingly everywhere, many sections a total mess. It was great, you never know what you would find. The place just oozed character.

I had no idea who this guy was at the time but I remember his bearded face sitting at the counter with piles of books climbing up around him. It is nice to know a bit more about him and i'll be sad not to see him there anymore.
posted by scott.ashton at 9:47 PM on May 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


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posted by plep at 9:50 PM on May 22, 2011


On my first visit to Australia last year, I made it a point to visit Gould's while I was in Sydney. I've been to a lot of used bookstores here and there, so I was expecting a pretty disorganized store with piles of books. It was more like a huge book warehouse filled with barely-organized mountains of books (and some LPs, IIRC?). If Gould's was been located in a more seismically-active area, I would have feared for my life in there.

But I easily spent three hours there just browsing the stacks mountains. The world needs more bookstores like that.
posted by armage at 10:41 PM on May 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


t was more like a huge book warehouse filled with barely-organized mountains of books (and some LPs, IIRC?)

LPs, CDs, VHSes, ancient magazines....
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 10:45 PM on May 22, 2011


RIP Bob. For those that have never visited his store, this photograph may explain why a comment like "Wouldn't want to be the one tasked with clearing out the shop." might be made. Hi, bystander!
posted by unliteral at 11:33 PM on May 22, 2011


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Bob would've preferred it stacked like that.
posted by a non e mouse at 12:54 AM on May 23, 2011 [6 favorites]


Goulds has the best collection of vintage sci fi in Australia and occasionally vintage porn.

I hope it continues to trade.

As for Bob, I hope he is resting in peace now. I was always apprehensive to approach the counter. Would I get happy Bob or grumpy Bob...? Either way it added to the Goulds experience.

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posted by MT at 1:58 AM on May 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


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posted by Ahab at 3:22 AM on May 23, 2011


I spent the last year working in newtown and walking home past there without bothering to go in.

I used to love that place - if you wanted to just grab a book and have a fun read it always kicked the shit out of any local library. As someone that grew up in Tasmania, the fabulous furry freak brothers were only a myth that older kids talked about. I managed to learn that they weren't that funny by the time that getting wasted got boring.

Thankyou Bob Gould.
posted by gronkpan at 6:37 AM on May 23, 2011


"If human beings have ever thought it, it belongs in my shop." There's a charming Dorothy Ray McMahon bio piece on Bob on p14 of this old South Sydney Herald.

I'm not particularly bothered by Bob's raiding of the Chancellor's sale - sure, he probably grabbed some stuff I would have wanted, but saved more from the pulp mill.
posted by zamboni at 6:50 AM on May 23, 2011


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