Tributes to Paul Greenberg from The Book Trade

Carole Beu from The Women’s Bookshop collated & edited a huge outpouring of tributes & messages from the Book Trade, to read out at Paul’s funeral in Palmerston North on 28 December 2017. They were all sent to Joan Roulston in full.

Carole's three-year-old granddaughter was born at 24 weeks. Paul lit candles for her, in this very church.  Over the first precarious months of her life I would receive emails saying ‘I lit another candle for Sashi today. Love, Paul.’

Paul Greenberg and joan Roulston
Paul Greenberg and Joan Roulston, Booksellers NZ conference 2016.

Tony Moores from Poppies wrote ‘If we all had influence in the Vatican, it would be quite a contest for who to elevate further - the St Paul who preached the gospel or his modern namesake who sold it’
He remembers, as we all do, Paul’s gorgeous waistcoats, his sense of fun & fairness, his energy, his huge crates of samples, his wisdom and his friendship.

Lots of people mentioned the waistcoats. Wendy Tighe-Umbers at Time Out Bookstore remembers actually mending Paul’s waistcoat during a rep visit.  She also remembers his support & encouragement when she was first starting out – she, Jenna & other staff say ‘The books, the socks, the style, the smile. The loyalty to clients, friends & family’

Other ‘new’ booksellers valued Paul’s cheerful encouragement when they were finding their feet:
Lou & Gareth Ward at Wardini Books in Napier were amazed there could be so much trade knowledge in one head. When stuck they agreed ‘Paul will know’

Rachel Eadie from Scorpio Books thanks Paul for always being an inspiration to her and to other young booksellers as they found their way in this industry. 
'He would arrive with wine, cheese, olives, cases of books and a hair-raising tale of another record breaking trip down the island. God knows how we got any buying done amongst all the natter, but we did because Mr. Greenberg knows how to sell a book!'

Jo Dippie, new at Page & Blackmores couldn’t believe Paul was trying to sell her a book on Cuban Coffee. Paul insisted she would sell out, so they took a bet on it. Paul won. When Jo presented him with the bottle of fine Pinot Noir on his next visit, he insisted on sharing it with her.

Anna Applin really valued Paul’s advice both as a Rep & when she first started buying at Unity Wellington - he said 'if in doubt leave it out'.

Julie Harper, formerly from Jabberwocky Children’s Bookshop thinks of jewellery, waistcoats, cologne, the wonderful smile, twinkly eyes, humour, and the incredibly generous, loving spirit. And Paul was the most wonderful dance partner at her first Booksellers conference.

Tilly Lloyd from Unity Books Wellington remembers the First NZ Whole Earth Catalogue published by the notorious Alisair Taylor way back in 1973. She claims this is what Paul would have said: ‘You can buy it by the carton or by the station wagon load – whatever suits you best. Splendid m’dear. We’ll see you right. Let’s go & have a fag’

Loyalty is a quality that many people mentioned. Helen Benton valued Paul’s faithful friendship & unfailing loyalty - she always felt Paul ‘had her back’. She also appreciated the difficult but important decision Paul made to give up being a travelling Rep on the road in order to stay & look after his children when they were young.

Bob Ross & Paul Greenberg


After a 40 year friendship, she & Bob Ross (formerly Tandem Press) also recall Paul’s stamina for partying – sometimes all night! Bob recalls one night when Paul was asked to vacate a swimming pool at 3am.  Helen says: ‘You were always last to leave the party, Paul, and now you are one of the first of us to leave the great party of life, that you so enthusiastically embraced.’

Bob also emphasises that Paul was a dedicated driver, passionate about cars.  On his first road trip from Blenheim to Nelson (he had accepted a Rep job for Reed but didn’t have a driver’s license!) he attempted to overtake a slow truck, accidently putting the car into reverse. Tony Moores mentioned a Peugeot 407 wagon loaded to the roof with samples and a stunning Audi 3.0 turbo diesel that looked damned fast even standing still.

Bill Noble recalls a midnight dash from Glenfield to Helensville during which he curled into a fetal position beneath the dashboard.

Tim Blackmore declares that the only time Paul was ever a wee bit late for a Rep appointment was when he was stopped by a cop for speeding. His registration had expired & he didn’t have his driver’s license with him but he got away with just a speeding ticket. ‘The man, the waistcoat, the jewellery, and the aftershave had worked their collective magic once again!’

Paul’s loyalty & human constancy, especially in difficult times, are raised by Dave Thorpe of McLeod’s Bookshop. He declares ‘I’ve known Paul for a heck of a long time. Paul's visits became a highlight and remained so for 30 years. I felt a kinship with this guy in his snazzy clothes and broad outlook.’

Anna Hunt at Marsden Books expresses what so many small independent booksellers feel: 'Over the many years that Paul and I have sat together at the back of the shop sharing confidences and thinking of ways to save the world, or at least the book trade, we became friends as much as business associates. He was a gentleman to the core, gracious, impeccable in his dress and manners and dedicated to making my business and his a success. He gave me such valuable advice, encouragement and support. I trusted Paul.'

Nevena Nikolic from Nielsen remembers Paul’s exemplary product knowledge, his pride in the industry and his beautiful manners.

Gillian Newman remembers that Paul made bookselling fun. She was always delighted to see his dapper self, smelling exquisite, looking sartorial, full of bonhomie, knowledge and kindness.

Carolyn Alexander at Unity Books Auckland also spoke of fun. She remembers Paul as unfailingly good tempered & kind - something most of us can only aspire to. ‘You have always been staunchly on the side of the bookseller. I will try to emulate your example that bookselling (& life) should always be fun’.

Carolyn Alexander & Paul Greenberg, 2014 Booksellers conference 

Peter & Ann Rigg (formerly of Page & Blackmore) remember Paul’s mess! He made good use of their large upstairs room at Page & Blackmore’s, spreading books, papers and forms all over the floor. 

Chris Baskett at Books A Plenty recalls Paul sweeping into the shop with trolleys & boxes galore, bouncing with life & friendship. The personal conversation flowed, as did the papers & duplicates of papers – all over the floor!
 
Paul represented all of the books that Quentin Wilson published between 1988 & 2007. During a chat at a Book Awards dinner many years ago Quentin & Paul discovered they had attended the same very small private Catholic primary school in Seatoun. Paul was totally bewildered that his most detested nun, Sister Mary Mercy, was none other than she whom Quentin had fallen instantly in love with at age nine.

Roger Murray met Paul at a Catholic school in Gisborne in 1955, when Paul was a small lost boy who was bullied because he ‘spoke funny and didn't know the rules of rugby’.
In time he grasped these rules and the team used to say ‘Pass the ball to Greene’ as he was our fastest  runner and that year we won the 7th grade championships.
On my way home from school one day I was told by the twin boys in our class not to side with the Pommie boy. I said No Way, and they threw punches at me but I sorted both of them out. Thereafter no bullying for Paul at school.
One day our teacher asked us to pick a person to be a friend and Paul chose me. I often wonder if he recognised a kindred soul as we both had disrupted childhoods and no father figures in our lives at that stage.
We lost contact for many years but thankfully found each other again so in the last several years we have played many games of golf together.
Paul was a valued friend with a sharp mind. I will remember him for his love of bling, waistcoats and cheeky chuckle.

David White remembers when he & Paul were young bucks in the book trade, thinking they were pretty flash. But he felt deflated when he looked at Paul - was there nothing that didn't sparkle, jingle or look so right on this bloke who sat at ease with his beaming smile? Then David looked down at his own shoes & took comfort in the fact that his were actually shinier than Paul’s.
 
Mary Egan says ‘What a wonderful man — so kind, helpful, hardworking, cheerful, so funny, so beautifully turned out.
We have laughed and laughed about why in the world we do what we do but in the end we came to the conclusion that it just gets ‘under your skin’ You are a legend Paul’

Tim Curnow in Australia describes Paul as a true bookman, a teacher & a gentle soul. He’s grateful that the connection has never been severed despite the Tasman Sea and the years.

There other messages from Australia too – From Rachel McDairmid, who knew Paul when he worked for Wiley in Australia:
‘He fought for NZ customers and provided them a level of service you don’t often see in the book trade today.’ 

Alexa Burnell worked with Paul for 10 years when he was their NZ rep for James Bennett’s agency. ‘A true gentlemen, he was self-deprecating, charming, professional, smart and had a huge heart’. She fondly remembers Paul opening & closing car doors for her & walking on the outside of the pavement. ‘NZ bookselling has lost a stalwart from its landscape’.

Heather Linaker, who was MD for Wiley in Australia, regrets she can’t be here for this celebration of Paul’s rich life. He had a huge network of friends and colleagues ‘across the ditch’. This was brought home to Heather at a conference when she & Paul thought they would dash to the back of the vast hall at Darling Harbour for a quick coffee. Not a chance –one step & Paul was greeted warmly by someone he knew – and then someone else – and then another – and another. 'I was in the company of someone who seemed to be regarded as akin to a publishing rock star!'

Gary Pengelly from Australia had hoped to be here today. ‘Paul represented everything I loved about our industry – he was a bit crazy, with a huge slice of passion, an ability to identify with anyone & to transcend generations. The other essential ingredient is a partner who can understand & make sense of those frequent notions to do something ‘off the wall’. Joan, you belong on the A list, a remarkable woman who kept our man grounded right to the end.
And the Greenberg turkey will feature on our Christmas table for as long as I am capable of cooking it. We love you Greenberg.’

Paul Greenberg, Gary Pengelly, Ruth McIntyre, Stella Chrysostomou and Lucy Bailey
Paul Greenberg, Gary Pengelly, Ruth McIntyre, Stella Chrysostomou and Lucy Bailey, Booksellers NZ conference 2017

Paul B & the team at Bateman describe Paul thus:
ALL THAT GLITTERS IS PG….
WHAT A GEM OF A MAN……
AND PURE GOLD AS A SALESMAN !!! (or more likely silver in this case)

Dave Cameron remembers Paul’s ambition to retire at 45. What a disaster that would have been. Imagine our ritual wine, cheese, olives and crackers without your trademark laugh, which dissolved all trials and tribulations. 

Andrew Tizzard from Nationwide Books loved the polite way Paul always started a story with 'as I'm sure you are well aware...' or 'as you well know...,' all the while knowing full well that Andrew was not aware and knew absolutely nothing.   

For Neville & Helen Templeton from Piccadilly Bookshop Avonhead & Papertree Bishopdale Paul was dynamic, a phenomenon, who, without being requested, undertook the role of mentor. 

Peter Dowling from Oratia Books refers to Paul as a gem. To Oratia, as to a host of small publishers, Paul has been a godsend, not only in sales and marketing, but offering a sage advice when decisions were needed on acquisitions or reprints. ‘Paul, you’re truly a jewel: strong and enduring and shining. Jewels live on forever.’

In a letter from PANZ, Peter acknowledges the qualities Paul, and Joan, brought to the industry – diligence, passion, good humour, generosity of spirit – qualities we all aspire to but not all of us can capture in Paul’s inimitable way.

Ruth McIntyre from The Children’s Bookshop, Wellington will also miss his professionalism and his utter commitment to independent publishers and bookshops.

Joan McKenzie from Whitcoulls  remembers all the wonderful qualities that have already been mentioned, in particular his ability to see the bright side of every situation, his fierce loyalty to both friends and customers & his deep and abiding love of Joan (Roulston).‘The industry has lost a passionate advocate who always made everything feel better.’

Juliet Blyth from Vic Books says ‘Overwhelmingly Paul was just such a kind man, who treated everyone as an equal, and always saw the best in others. He knew everyone and everything but he always kept his confidences and was a man you could trust deeply. He and Joan made such a great team and he always spoke of her like he had only just met her. I will remind myself of the man he was and hope to be just a little bit of that myself.'

From journalist Steve Braunias – 'When I created the mighty publishing firm of Luncheon Sausage Books, I asked Paul Little how to make a go of it, and he said two little words: ‘Paul Greenberg.’ It was an introduction to success. Paul worked wonders. He was irrepressible, the very best friend a publisher and author could have. We never had a cross word. Paul made that too difficult because he was so honest and so intensely likeable. I think the thing I most admired about him was his knowledge. He knew everything about the book trade and found the whole thing interesting and hilarious. We last met at the Surrey Hotel & when he left the bar that night I watched that little man with the broad frame and the mobile, laughing face walk out the door and I had tears in my eyes, and at the same time I felt a deep happiness at having known the wonderful, the dashing, the self-made, the adorable Paul Greenberg.'
 
Juliet Rogers, former MD of Random House NZ: would arrive at work at MacDonald’s, more than 30 years ago, to the very strong smell of Paul’s freshly brewing coffee.
She remembers bright red socks, coordinated with bright red braces and a glorious waistcoat. ‘Your excitement at finding a hidden treasure of a book that you could champion and turn into a success, and the way you cared for and looked after those around you. Then there was the dancing, when the tall bandy one would join the "shorter" bandy one on the dance floor and have the time of our lives.

I think we all aspire to 'a life well lived', Paul, and if that means a life where you are greatly respected, admired and enormously loved, by everyone who knows you, then you have hit the jackpot.’

Tony Moores again: ‘If God has a publishing division then I'll be first in line to give you a glowing reference so you get the golden chariot, all expenses paid, to travel the heavens and celestial bookstores spreading cheer and bonhomie amongst those booksellers who got there before you.’