Our focus is Central Australia, with a huge array of books—fiction and non-fiction—from the region. We cover the history of Central Australia, as well as a large selection of books about the arts, regional flora and fauna, geology, and travel. Red Kangaroo Books has a critical role in promoting books by and about Aboriginal Australians, their art, culture, history, and storytelling. While Australia is largely thought of as a monolingual, English speaking, country, this is certainly not the case for our store, with its extensive collections of work in a variety of Aboriginal languages such as Arrernte, Pitjantjatjara, Pintupi-Luritja, Warlpiri—the list goes on.
These non-English titles range from children’s stories, school texts to dictionaries and academic texts, through to the work of local Aboriginal prose and poetry writers. Red Kangaroo Books plays a vital role in an area that stretches from the Northern Territory to Western and South Australia. This is no better reflected in our support for teachers in the region—many of whom work at schools in very small Aboriginal communities many hours by road from Alice.
“A gallery of the ideas, knowledge, and stories that make up Mparntwe/Alice Springs. We couldn’t ask for a better curator than Red Kangaroo Books.”
Fiona Dorrell, Acting Executive Director, NT Writers Centre
Supporting Local Authors
Red Kangaroo Books excels at a fundamental job—supporting writers and illustrators. It’s about nurturing and building a community of readers and writers that share diverse ideas and experiences. There are arguably more writers per capita in Central Australia and the Northern Territory than anywhere else in the nation, and Red Kangaroo Books sustains this community of writers and readers. Across 2020, six of our top ten bestselling books were by local writers. Local writers are supported through regular book launches and promotions at the shop, and readers get to meet and talk to writers to share ideas and responses. There is a monthly Book Club, which brings readers together; a weekly newsletter that provides information about new releases locally and around the world. The NT Writers Festival—held in Alice every two years—is strongly also supported and sponsored by us.
As writer Morris Gleitzman put it: “The perfect small festival…exactly the right atmosphere to explore big and complex ideas in the company of generous minds. All in a location reminding us that stories are the foundation of every civilisation.”
Stephanie and John Capper
Red Kangaroo Books owner John Capper came to Alice Springs in 2001, initially to work at the local television station. In 2007, with retirement on the horizon after 50 years in the television industry, John’s thoughts turned to what to do next. Of course, buy a bookshop!
Thor F Jensen
Thor is a Danish adventurer, filmmaker and author who moved to Mparntwe/Alice Springs in March 2020. Thor has always been surrounded by literature and states that working in the Red Kangaroo feels like a great privilege – not least because of the strong community around the bookstore. Being behind the desk also gives him a new perspective on the publishing business and a chance to sell signed copies of his own book Salt Water and Spear Tips.
Bronwyn's parents were ready to retire and have a sea change and asked her to manage the shop in their absence. Having never worked in retail previously, Bronwyn was a bit daunted by the prospect of using an eftpos machine and being a sales person. But happily she loves it! One never knows who is going to walk through the front door from day to day. Over the years she has met so many interesting people and loves being part of the vibrant Mparntwe/Alice community. Bonus of working in a bookshop, is being surrounded by so many amazing books and working with fabulous staff.
Joanna has worked in bookshops since her teens. As the backup 'on call' person at Red Kangaroo Books, Joanna loves receiving a phone call asking if she's free to come and work. Unpacking the new arrivals and sharing them with customers is her happy place and it's rare that she finishes a shift without purchasing a book or two. She came to Mparntwe in 2013 for a six month research sabbatical and returned permanently the following year: she was hooked! Her work as a coach, facilitator and management consultant with non profit organisations keeps her busy when she's not in the shop.
Bernadette Ryan is the brains behind our weekly newsletter. A country lass who then moved to a 25 year career in music management in Melbourne, Bernadette became a Red Kangaroo Books devotee, working for us in the shop for three years. On occasion she ropes in her husband, Chips Mackinolty, to come up with bad puns, obscure information and the occasional review.