Is it a workshop? No, it's a bookshop. Welcome to Dead Souls in Dunedin

By | Posted: Monday July 20, 2020

Dean Havard, owner of Dunedins Dead Souls Bookshop, does his best to try and detail his place of work.

Describe the space: “Dead Souls Bookshop is located in an old Edwardian four-storey building on Princes St, Dunedin. It shares the street level with a barber and has flats above and below.

The shop is named after a satirical novel by Russian author Nikolai Gogol. The space is difficult to describe. It’s like a workshop with type drawers, book presses and printing bits and pieces that has been overtaken by a bookshop, overgrown by an ever-growing forest of books and bookcases with an upper canopy of pulp fiction covers on the ceiling and peopled by various oddments and bookends and figurines which I use as ‘characters’ for hand-printed woodblock bookmarks for the bookshop.

“Originally occupied by a ship’s chandler and sail makers, over the years the space has belonged to many businesses including publishers, solicitors and an art gallery. I’ve been here just over four years, although a lot of people presume the shop has been around forever.”

hat inspires you about this space? “I like how most people respond to the space, as if it is vaguely familiar and surprising, not exactly how a bookshop should look, but just how a bookshop might be like if you went about creating one in your mind from disparate notions.”

What is your role? “I am the owner – well me and the bank. I’ve been passionate about books and the book trade: reading, buying, trading and hand-craft publishing for about 20 years. Having a bookshop seemed like a good fit with the small press publishing I’d been undertaking with Kilmog Press since 2006. Hand-crafting activities can be done while people browse, whether I’m publishing a book of poetry or carving woodblock designs for bookmarks or bookshop posters.”

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