Top bookseller is hopeful for shops' future
Gina O'Donnell of the famous Hodges Figgis bookshop on Dawson Street in Dublin has been honoured with The O'Brien Press Bookseller of The Year Award after getting an "overwhelming" number of votes from people in the books business.
The shop is across the street from Waterstones which has just closed down, but Ms O'Donnell is not worried about the future of bookshops despite the growth of online book buying and the number of people buying e-readers like the Kindle.
"Yes, bookshops have a future," she says, "there is nothing like handling the books and perusing the shelves before making a choice".
Ms O'Donnell, who has worked in Hodges Figgis for more than 30 years and currently manages the store, was presented with the award at the annual Irish Booksellers Association conference in Dublin.
Ivan O'Brien, managing director of O'Brien Press, said: "She sets the tone for an exceptional team in an exceptional bookshop. Her knowledge and instinct for a good book are second to none. She is unfailingly professional, courteous and willing to help colleagues, customers and suppliers alike."
Ms O'Donnell started as a cashier in Hodges Figgis and worked in various roles before becoming a manager. "I was lucky to get a job in the oldest and biggest bookshop in Ireland from the beginning. I was already in the best as far as I was concerned and I've made amazing, life-long friends through it.''
The Bookseller of the Year Award was initiated in 1994 and the winner is chosen each year by votes from staff in bookshops and publishing houses all over the country. The organisers said that the number of votes for Gina O'Donnell was overwhelming.
So what does the best bookseller read? "Cheating at Canasta by William Trevor, On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan and Patchwork Planet by Anne Tyler were the books that I enjoyed most over the last few years," she says.