It would be one of the finest understatements of the year to say that Megan and James Landon are rather keen on books.

For they are more than keen — they are devoted to them.

And it's not just about enjoying a good read, for they have spent the past 13 years enthusiastically sharing their love with thousands of people who have, through that time, called to see them at Napier's longest-running independent book shop which has now clocked up half a century — Beattie and Forbes.

They also get visits from people who bought books from Beattie and Forbes before they took it over in 2005.


"We've had parents and grandparents who come in and tell us they bought books at Beattie and Forbes ... it's lovely to hear," Megan Landon said.

"And you sit down and think about it — 50 years is impressive so we said 'hey, we have to celebrate this'."

Which on Thursday evening at their Bridge St premises in Ahuriri they will do, along with some of the previous owners of the store, past staff, long-time customers and local authors and writers they had always been eager to assist.

"We have done a huge number of events over the years," she said.

It had always been, and will continue to be, a labour of love, and there would always be a strong place on the shelves for actual books.

In recent years they had encountered the rise of the digital age and electronic books, which they have not ignored and recently partnered with KOBO which is able to offer both the e-reader and a link through their site to download e-books into a variety of e-reading options.

"But people still want real books," she said.

Some customers took on the e-book option but many would later arrive and seek a hard copy version.


"They want a real book to show other people — to lend it."

That, and what she said was a determined effort by publishers to make books more visually spectacular and beautiful, had kept the pages well and truly turning.

"People want the quality."

People also enjoyed calling in to say hello, and seek advice on what would be a good buy.

"It is about talking to someone, it is personal and you form a relationship with them."

Beattie and Forbes has a colourful history which actually dates back to 1924 when Tom Sullivan opened The Office Supply Company at the corner of Hastings and Tennyson streets.

The shop was open when the 1931 earthquake struck and one of his two assistants, Nellie Rolls, was killed.

Sullivan managed to get out, as did Aline Buckley, who went on to work there for 50 years.

In 1968 it became Beattie and Forbes when Graham Beattie and Barry Forbes took it over.

They would eventually move on but the name would remain.

In 1980 it was bought by Catherine Robins and Janet Allen, and in 2000 by Sally Davenport, who later moved it to lower Emerson St.

The Landons took over in 2005 and moved the shop back to Tennyson St just down from the original site and two years ago shifted over to Ahuriri and into the old Post Office site.

They describe themselves as devout bibliophiles (booksellers) and with James coming from a retail background and Megan an academic background, the pages pathway was always going to be taken.

And on Thursday evening many a tale is bound to be told.