We ran the popular 'Love Letter to your Bookshop' competition for the second time in 2017, to celebrate NZ Bookshop Day. We also asked authors to write love letters to their own favourite bookshops, which you can read here, in the NZ Herald here, and in Your Weekend here. 

We received over 270 entries into the competition, from which we selected 23 entries to put through for final judging. The winner has been judged by Stephen Daisley, and was penned by Karyn Leona Stewart. She has won $500 in book tokens, and the bookshop won a $1000 credit from Nielsen Book. 

Each of the finalists has also received a small prize. 

Read the press release about the win.

Letter to UBS Canterbury

WINNER: Love Letter to University Book Shop Canterbury from Karyn Leona Stewart

I love my bookshop because … in the words of the ‘Bard’, “How shall I compare thee…” thou art incomparable. If the “cure is love” as Freud once wrote in a letter to Jung, “I love thee bookshop”. For you are the cure. A bibliophiles escape. See here, the books on past lives, the books on future lives.

Ridiculous books, serious books, books for kids. To paraphrase the Bard “books, books, books”. My footsteps ever quicken when I see you UBS, for you are my haven, by joy.

love Karyn

volume love letter

Love Letter to VOLUME, from Jessie Bray Sharpin

I love my bookshop so much I can’t put it into words. I love it so much that if it didn’t exist I would have already left Nelson.

I love my bookshop because I come in here constantly, but there is always something new that I didn’t know about that I have to read. My bookshelf has never been so full and healthy. I love my bookshop because it is therapeutic when I’ve had a bad or boring day. I love my bookshop because Thomas & Stella are therapeutic too & they always know what I need.

I love my bookshop because this town can be a little mundane & VOLUME feeds my brain and becomes my social life on Saturdays; they let me bring in a coffee while I browse and freak out about my latest favourite read. Volume is my happy place!!!

By Jessie Bray Sharpin

Paper Plus Lower Hutt

Love Letter to Paper Plus Lower Hutt, from Lyn Cumming

You are an oasis.

I drive 14kms to visit. Pass other ‘bookshops’ for only you. Any book I want I know you’ll have. Any advice I need I know you’ll help. I try to stay away because your lure is too strong and luckily I don’t pass you every day! Easy to go in, hard to go out. I think I truly, truly love you only.

from Lyn Cumming x

Love Letter to Scorpio Books

Love Letter to Scorpio Books, from Diane Lear

It is among my best of friends
I love the time spent in
the company of its books
I love the diversity it
I love the history, art, poetry
politics and love stories within
I love the smell of it
I love its comfy leather chairs
& sofas
I love the quirky arrangement of its
books … “The Beautiful Poetry of Donald Trump”
next to Enid Blyton!
I love all the time ‘wasted’ in my
I love it top to bottom & side to side.

Scorpio Books, Christchurch

Books for Kids

Love Letter to Books for Kids, by Amber Shearer

I love my bookshop because …

The knowledgeable shop assistants are so kind to myself and the customers and always willing to help.

I also love all the variety of books that lead me to different places filled with imaginative adventures.

There are so many interesting colourful novel books that sometimes I can’t make my over flowing mind up.

Love Letter to The Children's Bookshop

Love Letter to The Children’s bookstore from Bessie Martin

I love my bookshop because … it isn’t a book store. It’s a whole universe. Multiple universes actually. Hundreds. Thousands. Stories of magic and long forgotten wonder. Legacies that inspire you to live a different life. Knowledge you didn’t know you hankered. Books that change your life and books you’ll never forget. My bookstore gives me all of this. You approach the counter with a book in the crook of an arm, clutching a birthday present book voucher. The shopkeeper smiles warmly and hands you your book. You leave, naively assuming there was nothing special about the experience but when you reach home and open the cover, you are pulled in. You blink and look around at lions and witches, pirates and fairies, demigods and monsters. You walk in their shows and wield their power. Other book stores books sit on shelves plainly. They don’t stir and when you open them they exhale a breath of stale air. You sit them back on their dull display, walk to my bookstore, open the same book, ist in a brightly coloured corner and read, devouring whole chapters at a time, marking your place with slips of paper. So the next day you can resume reading. My bookstore is everything and my bookstore is me. That is why I love my bookstore.

from Bessie Martin

Love Letter to Plaza Books

Love Letter to Plaza Books from Lianne Goodwin

The Bookshop – Where people come together to share in the world of paper, words and pictures
-    to share knowledge, wisdom, history – love,
-    to descend into the realms of the written word
-    to become one with the characters so wonderfully constructed and portrayed you feel you could almost reasch out and touch them.

Books that come alive, that develop into tactile creatures that weave their way into our sub-conscious, that when finished, you take away a sense of emotion, satisfaction and intrigue that often literally embeds itself into the very depths of you.

So the bookshop big or small, cornershop or mall has a place in all our hearts, a place where we can meander or stop a while, breathe in and digest the pleasures it holds within, a place you can dis-place yourself from the outside world. It welcomes you in like a long lost friend – ‘stay a while’ it says and you do and you always leave having had your fill, a place that always delivers – still The Bookshop …

Love Letter to University Book Shop Canterbury

Love Letter to University Book Shop Canterbury from Kate Byrne

I love my bookshop because … textbooks are a necessary part of University life. Sure, there are those that argue you can get by without them but I for one don’t want to ‘get by’ – I want to succeed. UBS at UC helps me, and every other student do that.

You guys always have the textbooks we need, (generally) cheaper than elsewhere and a hell of a lot more accessible. Textbooks are always going to be expensive and, unless you’re lucky and UC Textbooks: buy sell and track on FB comes through ofr you, you’re gonna have to turn to UBS. Cheers for knocking back the prices as much as possible. My student bank account says cheers!

Textbooks aside, I genuinely really love our bookstore. The staff are always cheery and helpful. Also, you guys love books just as much as we do. Just today I had a cashier get all excited over a book. I adore books and the diverse selection at UBS is always a treat. You guys stock a few treasures, particularly in your classics section where you can find gorgeously covered classic literature for insanely low prices. Beautifully covered Russian classics for $24? Sign me up!
Anyways, I just wanna say thanks a bunch for being an awesome little oasis on campus for a book-loving, slightly nervous fresher!

Cheers UBS @ UC! Love Kate B xx


love letter to Bruce McKenzie Booksellers

Love Letter to Bruce McKenzie Booksellers from Victoria Jakobs

When I walk in, there is a smile & my name. And like good barista’s, they know I like my books dense, dark and slightly acidic. But if a new blend comes in, they know I’ll give it a test.

Because we talk about ideas, big ideas, little sparks, local gossip & global issues. And sometimes, whilst we are talking, there is a book in my hand and sometimes there isn’t. Because they have Rohintron Mistry and Chinese dice; maths books and music. Because buying presents is easier with a recommendation. Because my book eating children are warmly welcomed, and at home. Because.


Love Letter to Millwood Gallery

Love Letter to Millwood Gallery from Judith Campion

From the time I was very young, my reply to the questions of ‘What do you want for Christmas?’ was ‘6 books.’ Halfway through the year my mother would hit the Whitcombe & Tombs Sales & buy books, safely stowing them away for my end of the year “surprise.”
I was shrewd! I was greedy! I searched until I found them & read them one by one right under my mother’s nose (as I covered them with paper library covers). Christmas Day was always a disappointment for me.
Now I have an all-year round treasure-trove, Millwood Gallery with Murray (the muse behind the counter), surrounded with piles of temptations.
An adult sweetshop.
And what is more, it is my ‘local’, just along the road.
Now, I am no longer greedy. I am a glutton.

I search through looking for the latest, the unexpected, the curious. There are always interesting conversations to be had & exchanges of the most recent find. It’s exciting to have Santa Claus along my road.

Love Letter to Muir’s Bookshop

Love Letter to Muir’s Bookshop from Susan Caldwell

Dear Muir's Bookshop,

I wish to tell you how much I love you.

I loved you when I first came to live in Gisborne in 1980 when I observed your wonderful display of books in the windows and your street appeal with your tasteful signboard of dark green and gold lettering. “Muirs Bookshop Established 1905” (No vulgar bright yellow for you my dear!)

Your bookshop is like Alladins Cave that lures you into it and the further you travers it, the more excited you get.

I was deprived of bookshops as a young child due to the outbreak of World War 2 but fortunately I had my older brothers’ books to read – you will know them well e.g. A A Milne “When we were 6” and “Winnie the Pooh”, “Wind in the Willows”, etc. I still have those books!

My father died suddenly just before the end of the war, and my mother had to go and earn her living. Ration Books were her priority then, not bookshops!
When it came to school holidays, my mother would put me on the train from Soutpark (in the North of England)  - to London to stay with my uncle and his family.

My uncle was the keeper of Printed Books at the British Museum. He showed me the original manuscript of “Alice in Wonderland”. Later he became the Director of the Museum where he lived in spacious apartments in the Museum, so I enjoyed those holidays in the Museum. I was free to poke my nose into all the bookshops that were situated around the streets in Bloomsbury which was near the Museum. They were nothing like your lovely welcoming bookshop. I just peered through the windows!

When I became a medical student at London University, the only bookshops I went to were 2nd hand bookshops to buy Medical Textbooks and a 2nd hand skeleton. I like that shop but I didn’t love it like I love your shop.

My husband and I emigrated to New Zealand eventually. We both love you. Your bookshop is the best we have ever encountered – easy to find what you want and if you haven’t got a particular book, it will be ordered in for you. Your staff are so willing to help and also offering to gift wrap books.

All our children & their spouses and our 8 grandchildren receive books from you for their Christmas and Birthday presents.

You have recently started selling 2nd hand books. My husband found “letters form the Mozart family” for forty something dollars! That kept him quiet for a while!

Then there is the wonderful Café upstairs.

Who could ever want for more?

I know of no other bookshops that can compare with you.

How can we not love you?

From your ardent admirer,

Susan Caldwell

Love Letter to McLeods Booksellers

Love Letter to McLeods Booksellers from R Chisholm

a pātaka full
of words

A generosity of nourishment

Love Letter to Readaway, Howick

Love Letter to Readaway, Howick from Jennifer Beck

I love my bookshop …

… because it’s local, and to me and many others, the heart of our suburban shopping centre.

Eye-catching window displays and a wide open door welcome us into a treasure trove of wonderful books, attractive magazines and the latest newspapers. The children’s section is exceptional. If in doubt as to what book to choose for a reluctant reader, Barbara Rosie’s advice will be spot on. She and her experienced staff know and love their books, radiate enthusiasm and greet most customers by name. Buying a book from their wide range is not an impersonal transaction, but a shared social experience. Local authors are promoted, and the shop has been the venue for many successful book launches.

Barbara Rosie’s family have owned and managed this very special bookshop for almost sixty years. Howick would not be the same without it. Thank you.

Love Letter to Books for Kids

Love Letter to Books for Kids from Sister M. Philippa Reed

My dear little book-shop, I just love you!

But please, little bookshop, don’t keep looking out at me as I go hurrying by with my eyes squeezed shut.

“Just have a look!” you say. “Just one little look!” But one little look can be my undoing. Something just gets into my hands. I can’t help it. I’m overwhelmed by your treasures – books I’ve never seen before, books I’ve never heard of – old, old favourites, new books just off the press – all “The Borrowers” in one volume, “The House that Jack Built”, “Aotearoa” – and all the shelves I haven’t examined yet. Please keep stocking those lovely books, little bookshop, but I mustn’t come in again – not too soon anyway, well, maybe not today. Lovely books of every kind for kids of every age!

Thank you, little bookshop, thank you for being here brimming over with your treasures. (I wonder if you’ll be open tomorrow.)

With love from Gran

Love Letter to Muirs, Gisborne

Love Letter to Muir’s Bookshop from Daye Craddock

I love my bookshop because … well, let me count the ways. I love it because it is full of the most amazing range of books. There are novels (new and classic), history, philosophy, food, New Zealand interest, poetry – the list goes on and on.

I love it because the staff know what I like to read but are also not afraid to challenge me to read other things, things that maybe challenge my current thinking. I have been introduced to new authors and encouraged to try different types of literature.

I love it because upstairs is a great café where I can get a cup of the best coffee available and peruse my purchases before I dive into reading them.
I love it because we don’t life in Auckland or Wellington, Christchurch or Dunedin, but here in Gisborne we have access to one of the country’s best bookshops. Long may it last.

Love note to McLeods Booksellers

Love Letter to : McLeods Booksellers from Mary-Beth Acres

I love my bookshop because… they are the best. Here’s why:

1.    They sell great books!
(picture funny and interesting, a real page turner)
2.    Their team are awesome!
(picture – Helpful – creative – passionate – book nerds – friendly – knowledgeable)
3.    They are part of our community
(book launches & readings by local authors * kids events * amazing newsletter)
4.    They are progressive
(book subscription service, book club, book quiz, bullet journaling)
5.    Everyone belongs
(welcoming, cosy, great hours, fresh, coffee proximity, warm, local)

Love letter to Time Out Bookshop

Love Letter to Time Out Booshop from Janet McAllister

(gold book) Time out is the most friendly, most welcoming bookshop. They do not crowd you but let you browse, and they can chat re high brow and low brow lit, and reality TV!

(starry book) They open late Every Night! Hallelujah!

(triangle book) They know picture books aren’t just for kids!

(contemporary book) They promote local authors and books.

It is small and perfectly formed.

(plane book) postcards for pocked money and. Just browsing if you’re broke. They don’t mind.

(orange book) Their gift wrapping is JUST SO!

(piggy book) A great place to Meet up with Friends if we can’t agree on a café. Basically it’s Mt Eden’s living Room.

They love books (like me) and they love customers (like me!)

Love Letter to University Book Shop Canterbury

Love Letter to University Book Shop Canterbury from Julie Viviana Cedeno Bustos

I love my bookshop because … It makes me feel at home. I’m not a kiwi and since several years now I’ve been spending too much time abroad, always for good reasons I must say, first my masters’ degree and now my PhD.

Is always nice to travel, but in a life full of variables there is always need of a constant, and bookshops are that. Bookshops are home. The UBS is that constant, books are not in Spanish or Italian as they used to be, now they are all in English, but beyond that the stories are the same, those familiar titles are stil there, and that transcends languages and go straight to your heart. I love how UBS always has on display a classics section, Austen, Shelley, Dickens, Stoker and Tolkein are always present and always send warm waves in my direction, just because we’ve known each other since always.

I love how UBS also feels like a boutique bookshop, is small, cozy and personal, and always has creative exhibitions from relatively unknown works to the all time faves like Sherlock, Harry or Tintin. And then you also find those comfy armchairs hidden in cute spots, so you can go sit and enjoy for awhile those great candies that are books.

I love you UBS because you bring happiness to my heart, and because you pamper me as if I were at home.

Tons of kisses, Viviana


Love Letter to Vic Books

Love Letter to Vic Books from Russ Kale

I can’t imagine my week without it. There are restaurants and stores I’ve been to once a week for years, but this is the only place where they know my name. The kind of relationship I have with this bookstore is unparalleled, and I regularly find myself pacing the aisles, reading nothing more than titles and authors names – maybe the occasional blurb. The shelves of music criticism and classic literature and New Zealand poetry are like mounds of presents, and whenever I walk into Vic Books it’s like being a six-year-old at their birthday party, picking everything up and rattling it, trying to guess the contents. Even though it is out of the way, I am drawn back here weekly, attracted by the books and the staff and the sense of mysteries to uncover. I’m six years old again, and its my birthday every week.

Love Letter to Millwood Galley

Love Letter to Millwood Galley from Rosemary Cole

Millwood meets so many needs with its vast range of books, social stationery and art. I actually loathe shops and shopping, by Millwood and other bookshops are more my natural habitat. These independent booksthops do not have pushy staff or noisy muzak! Millwood gives you a chance to browse without pressure in a bookshop cum art gallery.

Even when Millwood is closed, it’s possible to appreciate the books and art on display while driving past or walking past.

What I really love about Millwood is that it has author launches without which I would not know about some writers, e.g. Stephen Daisley.
I love Millwood in so many ways, but especially for all the reasons listed above plus the p.s.

Yours truly, Rosemary Cole

P. S. I am the Convenor of the Graduate Wellington Women’s Literature Group and Millwood’s list of current titles & authors helps tremendously with planning our monthly/yearly programme.


Love Letter to McLeods Booksellers

Love Letter to McLeods Booksellers from Michelle

Dear McLeods Booksellers,

Although we have only been friends, it feels like we have known each other for far longer because we know each other by heart. :)

Thank you for your loyalty and constancy in my life. You are there for me in every season providing sanctuary, security and joy. You are a classy friend – always in tune with the world around you, but willing to go against the status quo. I love that you always adorn yourself with pearls, in the form of beautiful books and precious retail assistants.

I love that you warmly embrace people of all ages and walks of life; you never judge, you only ever offer encouragement.
Sweet bookshop, you are such a treasure – you are one of the many jewels in Rotorua’s crown. People say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and you are indeed stunning in my eyes. But in order for me to best love you, I  must release you and share you with others, so that they too may experience life change.

With much affection and appreciation, Michelle

Love Letter to McLeod's Booksellers

Love Letter to McLeod's Booksellers from Abbey Hartevelt

Dearest McLeods Booksellers

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways!

I love the feeling I get as I walk into your store. As a self-described lover of books aka book-mad person, I feel a comfort, an ease and a warmth as soon as I walk through those Pukuatua St doors. I’m in my happy place.

I love your mammoth selection of books. I may frequent your store but each visit leads to something new. Fiction, non-fiction, classics, memoirs, children’s books, adult colouring books, calendars, CDs, notebooks, bookmarks, magazines – there’s always something to look at.

I love the thoughtfulness, the kindness and the caring nature of the book lovers aka staff who work there. They’re always so helpful and for any event they’re hosting, they’re quick to send an invite my way.

I love the events held within your walls and your promotion of authors, illustrators, poets and even folk singers locally, nationally and internationally. I’ve loved the book launches and author visits.

I love how you’re not afraid to dress up in funny clothes and share your dress up days on social media. I’ve seen a few hippies and the odd super hero in your store.

I love that you promote Rotorua just by your presence in the community but also online and the help you provide to locals and both domestic and international visitors. Every time my sister, who’s also book-mad, visits from out of town, a trip to your store is something we must do.

I love your easy-to-use website. If I need cheering up aka need another book to buy, I love to scoll through your online catalogue.

I love your regular newsletter for its updates of events, promotion of new books and book reviews. I love the idea of your new book subscription service. I haven’t ordered your book box Cleod Crate yet but one day I will and I can’t wait to see what’s inside.

I’ve been to many other bookshops, just ask my long-suffering husband. And I still rate McLeod’s Booksellers as my favourite!

Thanks for your loyalty to Rotorua and to your customers! You will always have a special place in my heart!

That book-mad customer of yours – aka Abbey Hartevelt

Love Letter to Bruce McKenzie’s Booksellers from Maureen Sudlow

I am a bookaholic who does not want to be cured. Bookshops are for dreaming in, getting lost in, and never leaving. Plus they are a threatened species that need cosseting, visiting and lots of money spent in them.

They give us stories and dreams to lighten the dark day and make perfect the good ones.

Long may these bookshops last.


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