Like many, many women who were preteens in the late 1980s/early 1990s, I positively adored Ann M. Martin's wonderful series of books, The Babysitters Club. Every week, I used to look forward to the trip to the school library, where I would borrow the next book in the series. At the time, the school had about thirteen or so books from the series, and not all of them were in sequential order. If my memory serves me right, I think the school library had books 4, 6, 11, 13, 14, 15 and 19, plus a selection of the books from the Babysitters Little Sister series. Unsurprisingly, I soon ran out of BSC books to read. Never fear! During a trip to Rundle Mall, my mother and Auntie took me to a little store that was in the basement of John Martins. This little bookstore was called The Book Place and not only did they have every Babysitters Club book that was in print at that point in time in Australia (it was May 1990, so there were probably about 28 books, plus three Super Specials,) but they offered the books at a discounted price. For the sum of $3.55 my mother could buy me my very own BSC book that I could read over and over again, and never have to return to the library. I remember scanning the books for a long time (after all, deciding which book I wanted to keep forever was a very serious business,) before eventually settling on BSC#18 Stacey's Mistake. It had an off-white cover and a picture of Stacey and Claudia standing in dinosaur display at some kind of museum. I proudly read the first thirty or so pages on the bus trip home on the ol' 700. (The ol' 700 being a brown and yellow volvo that rattled a lot and always struggled to make it up Tapley's Hill, before taking a complicated network of backstreets before eventually arriving at Noarlunga Interchange. The route was decommissioned later that same year. Buses 712, 722, 723 and 733 have since incorporated parts of the route.)
Anyway this little shopping trip was my first ever excursion to what would become my favourite bookstore. Who cared if the escalators used to jerk, that the carpet was off-white and a little dirty and the pink paper bags that they used to package book purchases in looked a little tacky? This little department had an incredible selection of books, knowledgeable staff and they always offered some kind of discount. Over the next ten years, I visited the store many times and many, many first book purchases of favourite authors, including Judy Blume, Paula Danziger, Francine Pascal, VC Andrews and RL Stine were made that this little bookstore. Sadly, John Martins closed its doors in March 1998, a few years after being bought out by David Jones. The store was later knocked down and a bigger and grander David Jones now sits in its place. David Jones has a tiny bookstore on the second floor, where I once purchased a copy of Cold Comfort Farm while the basement, where The Book Place once so proudly stood is now a Food Court.
But you know what? Every now and again while I'm searching for books on eBay, I will find pictures of ones that have the distinctive blue and white price stickers still attached to the front. I guess I'm not the only one who loved that little store.