Otago Daily Times - By Bruce Munro on Sun, 30 Sept 2012
Someone else will have to find the bookseller's next silver bullet, Bill Noble says.
Sitting in a sunlit open-roofed bar overlooking Dunedin's Octagon, a stubbled Mr Noble daubs chicken liver pate and date chutney on flatbread.
The past four decades have been "one long highlight", he says.
"The only lowlight is the fierce and predatory competition we're enduring," he adds through a puff of cigarette smoke. Next weekend, the day after he turns 60, Mr Noble will be farewelled as manager of Dunedin's University Book Shop (UBS).
Friends, staff and industry colleagues will gather to honour the man who has made UBS one of New Zealand's finest bookshops and who himself has become a pre-eminent figure among this country's booksellers.
Mr Noble was a fresh-faced 25-year-old when he became the youngest-ever manager of UBS.
But he had grown up with a rich book heritage in his native Canada.
"My father was founder of the country library service in Manitoba," he says, taking another sip of cherry-red Chianti. "I was pretty much brought up in a library."
From as early as he can remember he has enjoyed "our surpassingly beautiful language" and the myriad ways it can be used in elegant and effective writing.
Which is not the same thing as liking books per se.
"There are a lot of people who claim to like books in general. But there are bad books, like anything else.
"I do, however, like quality books - those with elegance of prose and design."
His own reading tastes, these days, are quite specific - crime novels, mostly.
"In my 20s I tried to be a little more highbrow - Fitzgerald, Hemingway.
"Patricia Highsmith is my favourite writer in any genre. She writes highly literate crime novels, but consistently fails to sell at full price.
"Every year her books turn up in the UBS sale room and I send them back downstairs. I say, no, people can pay full price or not at all."
Full story at Otago Daily Times