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Thankful Northern Ireland authors tell of their sorrow over Eason's final chapter

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Eason’s on Donegall Place in Belfast

Eason’s on Donegall Place in Belfast

Claire Allan

Claire Allan

Glenn Patterson

Glenn Patterson

Leesa Harker

Leesa Harker

Eason’s on Donegall Place in Belfast

Back to school, browsing and book signings are just some of the happy memories Eason customers have shared after the bookseller and stationer announced it intends to close its seven stores here with the loss of 144 jobs.

The Irish-owned retailer, which has been in trouble for some time, blamed Covid-19 and Brexit for the decision.

The company has not reopened its stores in Belfast, Newtownabbey, Lisburn, Bangor, Enniskillen, Londonderry and Coleraine since lockdown restrictions were imposed in March.

Derry crime writer Claire Allan recalled the "amazing moment" she saw her first book on sale in the Foyleside store in 2007.

"I don't think people realise the amount of support Eason's gave to local authors by always making room to stock and push their books," said the author of Her Name Was Rose.

Claire Allan

"They were instrumental in building my career and this closure means my books probably won't be sold in Derry in the future because Eason's was the place to go.

"My daughter is an avid reader and it was her favourite shop. She would always completely fleece me for more books than I was intending to buy."

The Belfast author of 50 Shades Of Red, White And Blue, Leesa Harker, also owes her success to the firm.

"One of the highlights of my life was having my book launched in the city centre store when 200 people showed up. I also did some book signings in the Abbey Centre branch and always found Eason's very supportive of new writers, so this decision is terribly sad," she said.

Leesa Harker

Belfast author of The International Glenn Patterson added: "I was a bookseller at Crane's bookshop when I left school and I'd be sent round to the Eason warehouse practically every day.

"If we didn't have a book in stock we would send customers to them, or to Mullan's, Gardiner's, and they would all do the same if it was something they didn't have.

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Glenn Patterson

Glenn Patterson

Glenn Patterson

"It taught me that cooperation is widespread as competition. If one shop or chain goes, everyone suffers."

Political commentator Alex Kane said Eason's was his "go-to place" for newspapers and magazines from around the world. "They always had a very eclectic stock and I'll miss those Saturday afternoons of being able to browse and find something you'd never have expected," he said.

"My daughters Megan and Lilah always loved browsing and Eason's was brilliant for encouraging children to read, so it's a pity my young son Indy won't get the same chance to rummage."

Former West Tyrone Ulster Unionist MLA Ross Hussey bought many books for himself and his late mother Rachel in the Belfast, Enniskillen and Derry stores down the years.

"I'm very much into history so I would always have dandered in because Eason's was the only place you could go and potter about the rows of books and find something of interest," he said.

"My mother was a great Catherine Cookson fan, so coming up to Mother's Day I went to Eason's to get her latest book.

"I always found the staff very helpful and they went out of their way to help."

Strangford Alliance MLA Kellie Armstrong was a regular Eason's shopper from an early age.

"As a child it was the place to go for back to school new pens, pencil cases, novelty erasers and art materials. It was my go-to for my escape, thriller novels too."

Belfast Telegraph