International Update: Irish Bookseller Strikes Gold; South African Bookstore Chain Closing, for Sale

Irish bookseller Kennys Bookshop in Galway struck gold in the most bookish of ways, tweeting last week: "AMAZING discovery here at Kennys. We sometimes uncover gems, but today we found actual treasure ...solid gold coins, hidden in the spine of an old prayerbook!"

Archivist Sarah Gallagher was cataloguing a recently bought Diocesan library when she found two solid gold coins wrapped in paper and tucked against the book's spine. RTÉ reported that the coins "are Mexican in origin and weigh 37.5 grams each. They are dated 1821-1947 and estimated to be worth in the region of €5,000 [about $5,355]. The book is one of 25,000 in the newly acquired library and of itself is worth little in monetary value. The chance removal of the cover has led to a find like no other and created quite a stir in the bookshop."

Tomas Kenny said, "I've been buying and selling private libraries for over 20 years and we have come across lots of unusual items and letters stuck in books. We've never literally found treasure before though.... 

"The first thing we did was to contact the person we bought the library from as while we agreed to buy the entire contents we never expected anything like this. It was a really magical thing to happen and gave everyone in the shop a real lift." There has been no decision made yet about what to do with the coins, but a charity auction has not been ruled out.


In South Africa, Adams Booksellers will be closing its four branches at the end of May and has put the company up for sale. The 157-year-old business operates two main branches in Durban and Pietermaritzburg and two smaller branches based at the University of KwaZulu-Natal's Westville campus and in Johannesburg, IOL reported.

The shareholders will offer the business for sale as a going concern: "For the first time in its history, there is no member of the Adams family to take over from Peter Adams, who is retiring from active involvement in the business. As a result, the Adams family has decided to sell the business as a whole or parts of it. The skilled staff, the infrastructure and the market penetration will give the buyer a strong position entering these markets."

The company noted that the size and value of the book market has declined over the past few years, especially in South Africa, due to the poor economic climate, adding: "In the past, university book sales came from the large Unisa student market, which was funded by NSFAS bursaries. The government stopped the bursary scheme in 2019, and instead, students were given cash rather than book allowances. This resulted in a dramatic downturn in the sales of university books. The situation was worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic and the closing of university campuses and schools for the past two years."

This decline over the past three years led to the closure of five shops and a reduction of staff to 44 employees in 2022. The company said the business "offered a turnaround opportunity for someone who had the drive and energy to transform and modernize the family business and to take advantage of the existing platform of reputation, reliability and customer service that Adams had built up."


The Canadian Independent Booksellers Association's "Meet Our Members" series focused on Georgian Bay Books in Midland, Ont., calling it "the quintessential 'small-but-mighty' bookshop. Co-owners Sandy Dunsford and Sarah Kenney--who have a combined 30+ years of experience--have been delighting customers with pitch-perfect recos since 2016.

"Sandy and Sarah refer to their shop as a '600 square foot "to read" pile.' The store sells fiction and local interest books as well as a ton of kids' books, and the booksellers will happily help customers put in special orders which, in turn, helps them curate their collection to the customers' tastes. 

"That tailored approach has helped them build their community. 'We are very much a gathering place for book lovers. People will often overhear a conversation in the store and recommend to strangers what they love to read. We love that!" --Robert Gray

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