Sheila O’Reilly is leaving Village Books this month to return to her home country of Ireland.
She has been events manager at the south London independent bookstore since January last year, and owned nearby Dulwich Books for 13 years previously.
O’Reilly is will continue in her role as business mentor for the Unwin Charitable Trust/Booksellers Association mentoring scheme for independent bookshops, which she began last year.
The award-winning bookseller entered the book industry more than 30 years ago at Academic Press. In 1995 she set up an online bookshop selling audiobooks processing and dispatching orders on her dining room table. Four years later O’Reilly saw an advert in The Bookseller about a nearby bookshop in Beckenham being available, it was “too good an opportunity to miss” as she wanted to merge online with high street retail.
In 2002 she bought Dulwich Books and took that on to win many awards, including Independent Bookshop of the Year at The British Book Awards in 2014 (right). She sold the store the following year to Marsh Agency co-founder Susie Nicklin and remained on staff for another year before taking on the part-time role of events manager at nearby Village Books in 2017.
She has been on the Booksellers Association council for many years as well as the Independent Bookshop Forum and many other industry panels. She has also been a judge of International Bookstore of the Year for London Book Fair, Costa Biography Judge and the Independent Bookshop’s Book of the Year award.
“I have absolutely loved every moment of my bookselling life,” she told The Bookseller. “It is a fantastic industry to work in and I have made so many wonderful friends. The brilliant aspect of the industry is that everyone wants you to succeed and are incredibly supportive. I cannot thank everyone enough for the support I have received over the years”.
She will leave Village Books at the end of June and the store, heard up by Hazel Broadfoot, is now recruiting for a part-time events and media manager.
With no current plans for a career in Ireland, O’Reilly said she is hoping to continue in the book trade after a summer break.
She can be contacted via email firstname.lastname@example.org.