In the depths of last year’s first lockdown, Hornsby bookseller Tanya Kurukulasuriya launched a personalised book-bundle service to keep The Bookplate, the second-hand bookstore she runs with her dad, Gerard, afloat. Customers filled out a questionnaire about themselves (Do you like olives? Are you a cat or a dog person?) and, based on their responses, Kurukulasuriya would post a stack of five books. By all accounts, the selections were bang on, and more than 4000 people have filled out the quiz so far.

Now, Kurukulasuriya has expanded the service so people can have bundles sent out to their bookish loved ones. She’s called them “book-quets” – marking them out as a longer-lasting alternative to flowers. Customers answer a few questions about their friend or family member – whether they’re a glass-half-empty or half-full type, their favourite authors – and Kurukulasuriya will use her mystical touch to select five to seven books she reckons they’ll dig.

“Through the turmoil of [2020], I think books and reading became something of a saving grace for a lot of people who were stuck at home,” Kurukulasuriya tells Broadsheet. “I think of it as the silver lining for these unprecedented times – hey, at least we get loads of time to read more. While the original bundles were something people could order for themselves, book-quet bundles can be ordered for friends and loved ones.”

Each “book-quet” is prettily wrapped like a bouquet of flowers and sent directly to the lucky beneficiary. The majority of books Kurukulasuriya sends are general fiction, crime fiction, sci-fi, fantasy and biographies. Customers also have the option to mention what kind of books the recipient likes best – but Kurukulasuriya is pretty confident of her selection skills.

“I’ve had many people respond to say that I must be magic, as I’ve picked spot-on books for them, and many more have written just to say thanks, which I always love to hear,” she says. “We have had the most amazing response from everyone. Our Bookplate loyal customers and also the wider community – even stretching to the farthest reaches of Australia – have all embraced this book-bundle idea of ours, and the feedback I’ve received has been so supportive and appreciative. My dad and I sincerely believe it is this sense of community that has kept The Bookplate going … we love and appreciate the opportunity to provide books to anyone that needs them.”

The Bookplate’s book-quet bundles are $50 each, for five to seven books. Fill out the questionnaire here to begin your order.

thebookplate.com.au