WE NOTE THE PASSING of Robert (Bob) Gould who died suddenly in his Newtown bookshop on 22 May 2011 aged 74 after sustaining a head injury in a fall. From when he opened the Third World Bookshop in Goulburn Street Sydney in 1967, he owned a dozen bookshops which opened and closed, but Gould‟s Book Arcade in King Street Newtown had prospered since 1988. Most Sydney book lovers visited Bob’s Newtown store at some stage and everyone had a Bob Gould story. Bob could, some thought, be surly and abrupt, but he was a mine of information and his general book knowledge was without peer. On his day he’d be only too happy to share it.
His sprawling Newtown shop on two levels at first glance seemed chaotic. It was not noted for its orderliness, and searching for ‘that’ title could result in a stash of publications tumbling over the seeker. Yet, whenever asked for a book, there was a good chance Bob would know if it were in stock among his 80,000 odd titles and he always knew of its likely location. He could be found at bookfairs amassing trolleyloads of pre-loved stock and at suburban festivals buying cheap secondhand books in a backpack.
Whilst he clearly continued to relish these traditional modes of book accumulation, his business was sufficiently progressive to embrace the new technology and retail books online.
A committed Trotskyist, Bob held strong political views, spearheading anti-Vietnam war protests and writing numerous essays for a left wing website. In the mid 1960s he was one of three men who pursued and tackled the man who tried to assassinate Labor leader Arthur Calwell at an anticonscription rally in Mosman. Bob remained an active contributor to debate on issues of public censorship, public policy and refugees. Over the last 15 years he wrote a number of essays which were published on the OzLeft website. It is believed the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) maintained a substantial file on him.
If ever there was a biography waiting to be written, it is about Bob Gould who will certainly be missed in the Sydney
secondhand bookshop scene and will be long remembered among book collectors. Our condolences are extended to his family, who plan to keep the Newtown shop and online business going.