Stella Chrysostomou of Volume Books talks about her love of literature. Photo: Sara Hollyman

Vic Brewbar Banter

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Every few weeks the Nelson Weekly sits down at the Vic Brewbar for a drink and bite to eat with someone interesting doing something interesting.

Today we speak with Stella Chrysostomou from Volume Books about how she came to be running an independent bookstore in the heart of Nelson.

Q: How did you come to be in Nelson running your own bookstore?

A: I went to university in Wellington and studied history and politics. I came out of university thinking I’d probably end up in public service but realised, actually, the idea of sitting at a desk shuffling paper isn’t what I wanted to do.

I fell into the book trade by accident because I needed a job and a friend said ‘Oh there’s a job going at Bennetts, you should apply for it.’ So, I was the packing girl in the back room parcelling up the packages to send out to people. I ended up back in Nelson totally by accident, like most people I think.

I came back for a couple of months to save some money and then suddenly, I’m still here. That was about 19 years ago. My partner Thomas and I decided we would really like to have our own book shop and give it a try. The space became available, so we did it.

Q: Have you always had a love of literature?

A: Yes, I was one of those kids that read with their torch hiding under the covers, and when my torch got confiscated I would use the outside light by pulling the curtains back.

I just read everything, I worked my way through the Stoke library. By the time I was 10 or 11, I had read most of the kids’ books and moved on to teen fiction and was reading my mother’s books.

Q: Do people still read?

A: Definitely! People still read, I think there is more choice for people’s entertainment time, there’s Netflix, movies, and gaming which is huge. People can be gaming sometimes with people from the other side of the world. There’s a lot more choices about how you use your time, but people still read in all sorts of formats.

What we’re finding is that people want to turn away from screens.
Most people’s jobs involve screen time of some sort.

There’s a new enthusiasm for books.

Q: What’s special about Volume?

A: We want people to make discoveries.

An important part is sort of being a cultural hub and a place where people can gather and discuss ideas.

We have a table and seats, so people can sit down and really browse.
There are lots of places people can meet, you know there’s cafes and restaurants but there’s not many places where conversations take place especially around ideas which is something that we like to encourage.