Sheila O’Reilly is retiring from Dulwich Books, just over a year after selling it to The Marsh Agency co-founder Susie Nicklin.
O’Reilly told The Bookseller she was stepping back from retail and desired a “new challenge”, but hoped to remain connected to the industry.
O’Reilly sold Dulwich Books in London to Nicklin, executive chair and co-founder of The Marsh Agency, for an undisclosed sum in August last year, but remained with the company to focus on continuing the shop’s growth, building publisher relations and developing the store’s event strands.
She will leave the bookshop on 30th September after 14 years.
O’Reilly said: “It’s time to move on, pursue other interests, read more books, and think about my next challenge. I have been in bookselling 19 years, as I owned a bookshop in Beckenham before that, and that is a long career for anybody.”
Despite the pressures faced by independent bookshops in terms of rising business rates and competition from online retailers and e-books, O’Reilly said she has been passionate about bookselling.
“I absolutely believe that retail is an exciting place to be,” she said. “Bookshops have survived over the last five years, despite all that has been thrown at them, and the best ones are thriving under entrepreneurs, because they could not survived without doing lots of other things too.”
She added, about “one of the more enjoyable sides” of the business: “It is a brilliant, powerful thing to do to be able to recommend books to readers. One of the things I have loved the most is getting my hands on a proof of a brilliant debut book and being empowered to spread the word about it.”
O’Reilly said she was keeping her “options open” about her next move, but added: “I think the bookshop is in a good place under Susie as I leave it.”