Anne Brown outside Rosetta Books, photograph by Ketakii Jewson-Brown
Bidding farewell to a town favourite as they step onto a new path is bittersweet. Writer, Angela Reedman-Polinski recently sat by the fireplace with well-loved local, Anne Brown, who recently sold the iconic Rosetta Books, to hear what she has in mind for her next adventure.
by Angela Reedman-Polinski
Anne Brown is a name synonymous with Rosetta Books and the Maleny literary scene. As a regular HT contributor with her ‘Book Bites’ reviews, we knew we couldn’t let her leave without a proper editorial send-off.
Anne grew up in Blackall in Central Western Queensland where her parents had a cattle and sheep property.
Reading became an obsession from a young age with no television as a distraction. Anne and her four siblings had a wonderful childhood before heading off to boarding school from grade seven.
Once her schooling finished in the mid-1970s, Anne made the big trip over to London to explore Europe and there she found her travelling feet.
“I hitchhiked around Europe for a few years back when it was done by everyone. I enjoyed picking chestnuts in the south-west of France, spent months lazing around Greek Islands, worked in London and generally did what one did in the ‘70s.”
Anne returned to Brisbane and worked a variety of retail jobs throughout the late 1970s and ‘80s before marrying and having two sons.
Raising her young family, Anne took an interest in natural health and studied a naturopathy course while juggling work and family life.
Life changed course with school-aged children and a divorce and so Anne moved into retail roles at Dymocks Books and Angus and Robertson stores.
“I learned the ropes at this time on what was involved in running a bookstore and hadn’t dreamed that one day I would be doing it myself.”
Advancing her skills in operations and book buying activities paid off for her future, but that was not on the horizon just yet.
Anne met her partner, Geoff, and bought a farm in Conondale as a weekender. “Geoff moved onto the farm and I moved there once the boys had finished their schooling in Brisbane.”
Anne started out as a casual bookseller at Rosetta Books in 2009, “I felt at home in Maleny and enjoyed meeting the locals and being part of the community.” She took up the opportunity to buy the Rosetta Books store that year.
“In the early days the bookstore was in the small space next to Monica’s Café, and then I moved us in 2011 to the bigger space in our current location.”
The 2011 move didn’t come without its fears. “I was concerned about it being a big space to fill and a huge outlay…”
However, the move paid off and the store became frequented by more and more locals and tourists.
“What we found was that the tourists were drawn to the store and the local community felt a sense of ownership of it right along with us. I just love this community and the support it offers.”
A new layout was designed and the space took shape. “We developed the new store with the community and families in mind. We are all very proud of the children’s area with its comfortable reading nooks and cosy feel.”
The famous large copper coffee machine used in the café came from an online purchase from Norfolk Island. It sat boxed for two years before the opening of the cafe section in 2013.
“The large leather lounge suite became a real focus point of the shop but unfortunately it had to go through lack of room and people falling asleep on it. Some people have not forgiven me yet for removing the lounge!”
All the furnishings and design layouts make the store comfortable, but Anne says it is the staff that make Rosetta Books a shining success.
“I have had staff throughout my whole time at Rosetta Books who have had my back and a lot of fun in our everyday work. They make the store what it is with their knowledgeable, friendly and professional manner.
“I can say from my heart – I would not have wanted a business anywhere else. This community is incredible. People make the choice to choose us. We survived Amazon, Kindle and Booktopia and are still going strong due to community support.”
I ask Anne what she will be doing in her days now that she is no longer treading the boards of Rosetta Books.
“I’m in my sixties and I am ready for a slower pace in to semi-retirement. I want to do a lot more reading by the fireplace and reading for pleasure rather than recommended sale lists.”
Rosetta Books will continue as the lovely local bookstore that we have come to know and love.
The new owner, Jan Cornfoot, has taken over the reins with the sale completed on July 4. The regular book reviews in the popular ‘Book Bites’ section and support for local authors will continue.
“The only thing that will be missing will be me and my dulcet tones! Don’t worry, you will see me around town drinking coffee and looking well-read and well rested.”
Where will Anne’s travelling feet take her next?
“I’d like to get back to Morocco where I visited last year and I will just see where my next adventures take me. Maleny and its community will always be in my heart wherever I go.
“I started in Blackall and have ended up in the Blackall Ranges where I have found my tribe. Thank you for making me so welcome here.”