Scoop Review of Books

Q&A: Hard To Find Books

Hard to Find Books: Fundraiser

An email asking for help showed up in our in-box this week from Hard to Find Books, so we reached out to the owner, Warwick Jordan, to ask him what’s up.

Q. Can you give us some background about Hard to Find Books, like when you started up, why and what you do?
outsideA. The bookshop began as a hobby in a garage back in 1983, a real bookstore in 1984, and found its present home in Onehunga, Auckland, in 1988. It was founded on my passion and obsession for books of all kinds, and I believe we have created a store with an essence of magic, pleasure and surprise, a repository of learning, knowledge and entertainment. The books in the shop are complemented by the store itself — a several storey 19th-century chaotic shambles of a timber building with well-worn wooden stairs and original wallpaper still hanging (just) from the walls. It is both a cultural icon and an economic anachronism with a unique bookish atmosphere available to all incomes and tastes.

Q. You’ve recently started a fundraising campaign. What’s the reason for that?

Warwick Jordan

Warwick Jordan

A. Unfortunately we are in crisis and this friendly dinosaur faces extinction… The landlord hasn’t maintained the building for the last twenty years and is now signalling a massive rent increase, one we won’t to be able to afford. Our only hope is to try and raise funds to buy the building and restore it to its glory, either fully funded or with a viable deposit. Despite working pretty much seven days a week, I don’t own properties or have savings or bankable assets. The business has been a labour of love which pays our wages and continues to give a great many people of all ages pleasure, but there are no gold bars buried in the garden (we’ve looked).

As the only resort I can think of we have come up with a crowdfunding campaign. If readers can help us by either preferably donating at the secure crowdfunding site: or if that does not sit well, perhaps supporting us by purchasing some books from us online at our website

Q. How much are you trying to raise and what will it be spent on?
A. We don’t know the exact amount the landlord wants for the building, but I understand its rateable value is about $830,000, so I am guessing around $1million to buy it. We then need another estimated $150,000 — $200,000 to cover repainting and repairing the building. If we can’t fully fund it, we hope to raise enough for a deposit and fund the balance via a bank. If we don’t get enough to do that it’s a case of trying to strike some sort of deal with the landlord, or abandon ship and use the funds to try and relocate… but I have no idea where we could find that would be viable.

Q. What are some of the highlights of your work over the years? Any interesting anecdotes?
A. There have been hundreds of unusual experiences. Back in the early 1990s we had our own political party (to advertise the shop) which changed the electoral law in NZ (now you have to have 500 members to be a party… we had 2). We’ve met and purchased books off diverse people including Sir David Lange, Sir Robert Muldoon, Sir Edmund Hillary and many others. We’ve sold books to Lord Sir Julian Fellowes (research books for what became Downton Abbey), Guy Ritchie, Premier Bob Carr, John Bon Jovi, Wilbur Smith… and we’ve had thousands of amazing but not necessarily famous people through our doors

Q. I’m interested in your views on the book trade. Where do you think things are headed?
A. I believe there will always be a book trade. E-books have their place… I won’t say where… but they will never replace the feel, texture, smell and warming character of a real book. Unfortunately, the cost of rent means that bookstores will struggle unless part of a corporate chain, and independent character shops like ours may be lost forever… which is why we want to save ours and time-proof it.

Give-a-little fundraiser:

Online bookstore: