I want to write a bit about my friend and colleague Andrew Cattanach. After five years with Booktopia, Andrew is leaving to join the great team at publisher, Hachette Australia.
Though everyone here at Booktopia will miss him we are excited for Andrew as he makes his way from bookselling to publishing. Andrew is a born storyteller and it is natural that he should gravitate closer towards the source of books.
In his speech at Andrew’s send off, Booktopia CEO, Tony Nash said he felt sure that in the near future we’d be reading that a Man Booker winner had been discovered, championed and published by Andrew Cattanach. (Andrew did call Richard Flanagan’s win very, very early, if you’ll remember)
Booktopia was Andrew’s first grown up job. Originally from Hay in country NSW, where there was little else for a bright spark to do but read, he came to the big smoke to go to uni and worked in pubs to pay his way. Getting his degree he headed out into the world, travelling for a time in Europe and the US, before returning to Australia to the kind of job an Arts Degree guarantees – a cubicle in a customer service team. Thankfully, Andrew chose to don a headset at Booktopia.
Booktopia has seen constant growth since its birth twelve years ago and such growth means that Booktopia is an exciting place to work. Nothing stays the same for long. There are opportunities for those who seek them.
Andrew sought out these opportunities. Sure, it helped that he is a very talented writer, an outside the box thinker and very socially adept (which is code for ‘he is a very nice fellow’), but it takes no small amount of courage to put yourself forward in life and Andrew did so without having any real idea what was to come. Nobody did.
Since joining the sales and marketing division at Booktopia Andrew has been a key voice in a very creative team. During his time with us we launched Booktopia TV, the Booktopia Podcast, increased the reach of our blog (launched the new blog) and greatly expanded our promotions and competitions capacity. Andrew provided great copy, managed our social media (expanding its reach considerably), and most importantly, was a constant reminder that if you love what you do, as he did, work should be fun.
Much of what I have just described was achieved behind the scenes. You may know Andrew Cattanach as his alter ego, The Incompetent Cook, under which name he was filmed cooking with some of the best cooks and chefs in the country – Matt Moran, Rick Stein, Silvia Colloca, and Masterchef’s Gary Mehigan, or you may know him through his many interviews with writers and celebrities from Little Britain’s David Walliams to Booker Prize winner Tom Keneally to rugby league commentator Ray Warren.
If you’re in the book industry and attend book launches and events, you’ll probably have chatted to Andrew at some time or another. Andrew loves chatting to others who share his passion for books – and to those who don’t. He’s always up to the challenge of converting non-readers.
Which leads me to the essential element of Andrew’s success at Booktopia – he truly loves books. And he knows how important they are if we are to live full and interesting lives, and how important they are for society as a whole – important in safeguarding our democracy and our freedom and essential for encouraging tolerance and empathy.
Though Andrew is leaving Booktopia’s sales and marketing team, his achievements remain and we are in a better position than ever to continue the good work of promoting books and writers to an ever widening audience, and for this we must publicly thank him.
Thank you Andrew, it’s been a pleasure to work with you – and good luck with the future.
Oh, one last thing, Andrew, finish that bloody novel you’ve been writing, asap. We’re all dying to read it (and so is Douglas Coupland, see below).
About the Contributor
While still in his twenties, John Purcell opened a second-hand bookshop in Mosman, Sydney, in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Since then he has written, under a pseudonym, a series of very successful novels, interviewed hundreds of writers about their work, appeared at writers’ festivals, on TV (most bizarrely in comedian Luke McGregor’s documentary Luke Warm Sex) and has been featured in prominent newspapers and magazines. Now, as the Director of Books at booktopia.com.au, Australia’s largest online bookseller, he supports Australian writing in all its forms. He lives in Sydney with his wife, two children, three dogs, five cats, unnumbered gold fish and his overlarge book collection.