Meet Henk Kelly-Kobes of Dymocks Booksellers in Camberwell
Article posted: July 14, 2020
Avid readers have roamed the bookshelves of Dymocks Booksellers in Camberwell for more than 20 years, hunting for the latest bestseller or an undiscovered gem.
The family-run store is a popular destination for booklovers, with a huge range of fiction and non-fiction reads, as well as a large children’s section.
Owner Henk Kelly-Kobes and the Camberwell Dymocks team firmly believe in customer service, offering personalised recommendations and free gift wrapping, as well as helping customers search for rare books.
The team have gone to great lengths to keep their customers happy, especially during the height of the COVID-19 restrictions, when they started offering home deliveries to housebound customers.
“We’re looking for new ways of doing things all the time,” Mr Kelly-Kobes said.
“We have a loyal customer base because we look after them, and that’s part of our story.”
Puzzles became a top-seller amid the stay-at-home restrictions, as customers sought out an escape from the pandemic.
“The business has evolved into new areas over time, and we carry a lot more giftware, toys, boardgames and puzzles now,” he said.
The store also carries a beautiful range of Moleskine, Lamy and Rifle Paper Co products, as well as cards and gift wraps.
Technology has given readers more ways to enjoy books, however traditional books are not going anywhere, according to Mr Kelly-Kobes.
While some people have turned e-books and audio books, many readers still crave the physical experience of holding and owning a real book, he said.
“Any house without a bookshelf is not a home,” he said. “Many people still think about books like that – they still buy books not just for the feel of it, but also because they’re part of the furniture.
“I don’t see that changing. Everyone said when e-books came out that it would be the demise of the hard copy, but e-books are so small now – audio books are bigger than e-books.”
While audio books are very popular, Mr Kelly-Kobes said hard-copy book sales hadn’t decreased because of audio books — instead, the market had grown as a whole.
“It’s not replacing the book, it’s just making them more accessible,” he said.
Reading with friends
Author events and regular book clubs have been a popular feature of the Dymocks Camberwell experience, although they have been put on hold due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The team have run hundreds of events, big and small, since 2005, including its regular First Tuesday Book Club.
“We bring in local authors that are starting out or looking to promote a new book and our regular customers love meeting them,” Mr Kelly-Kobes said.
The monthly event is all about creating a literary discussion, where new authors can discuss their books and more with an engaged audience.
The team also holds larger events with major local and international authors, where locals can get a chance to meet their favourite scribes.
Bringing people together
Mr Kelly-Kobes is a big believer in supporting the community too, and Dymocks Camberwell has been donating books to local schools, libraries, and other organisations for years.
He said they sponsor a range of literary programs, Rotary events, and other fundraisers, giving away thousands of dollars in donations every year.
“The community is an important part for us, it’s about keeping that connection to the local area,” Mr Kelly-Kobes said.
“Most small traders are the same; we all know our customers and we want to be part of their community.”
Visit the store
208 – 210 Camberwell Road, Hawthorn East, VIC 3124
Phone: (03) 9882 0032.