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Illustrated Guide to Christchurch and Neighbourhood



Literature being so closely allied to progress, it will not be out of place, in the present pages, to give a short sketch of its page 200rise and progress in Christchurch, and we cannot do so in a more fitting manner than by giving a history of the bookselling and publishing business or Mr Alfred Simpson, High-street, Christchurch, an engraving of whose fine new premises we give. The business was established in 1862, in a small shop in Cashel-street, by Mr J. T. Hughes (Mr Simpson's brother-in-law), whose knowledge of books was acknowledged to be second to none in the colonies, and, as a natural consequence, he conducted his business so successfully that, in 1868, he found it necessary to move to more commodious premises, and fixed upon High-street as the scene of future operations; his shop being one of the places that all lovers of books made a point of visiting when in Christchurch, as they could always depend upon finding there the latest publications, either in book, pamphlet, or periodical form. The supply of periodicals was one of the principal items of the business, and has continued to grow so that at the present time something like 1000 parcels per month are despatched to all parts of the colony. Early in 1877 Mr Hughes retired from the business, and was ably succeeded by the present proprietor, Mr A. Simpson, who successfully carried on the business until the 19th of January, 1884, when a fire temporarily suspended his operations by totally destroying the most complete stock of books in the colonies. Daunted, but not dismayed, business was resumed two days after the fire in a temporary shop in the Triangle, pending the erection of new premises on the old site, which were only completed in September, 1884. In the meantime Mr Simpson set to work to get together a new stock, a task of no mean study, but hard work and capital have won the day, and visitors and residents can now get their wants supplied with everything of the latest and best in books, stationery, artists' materials, and fancy goods. One of Mr Simpson's mottos being "quick sales," is a guarantee that his prices are satisfactory to purchasers. The best books of every shade of opinion on all subjects are imported in sufficient quantities to meet the requirements of the market, cases arriving by every mail and direct steamer from London and Melbourne. Mr Simpson's London agent being a colonial bookseller of many years' standing, thoroughly acquainted with the requirements of the colonial trade, is a guarantee that this department is, not neglected. The "Bespeak" portion of the business has grown considerably during the last few years, more especially since the N. Z. Shipping Co's. line of direct steamers has placed us in such close proximity to the Old Country; as anything not in stock can now be obtained in a little over three months from date of ordering. In the successful catering for the enlightenment of his fellow colonists, Mr Simpson has not neglected the publishing portion of his business, having already published page 201many useful works, of which, amongst others, may be mentioned the N. Z. University Calendars and Examination Papers; "Out in the Open, or Natural History in New Zealand," by T. H. Polts, Esq., and having now in the press, "The Principles and Practice of the Supreme Court of New Zealand," by Dr. Foster. Mr Simpson's terms for publishing are those known as publishing "on commission," which, gives justice and a fair proportion of profits to the literary producer and the literary introducer. Sufficient has been stated in the foregoing to show that the profession of literature is not neglected in Christchurch, and visitors will find a cordial welcome, without being expected to purchase, on visiting Mr Simpson's establishment.