Stories of Whitcoulls' ineptitude towards local literature became legion among New Zealand writers. For instance, after my first novel, The Mentor, was published, I went eagerly into the Whitcoulls flagship store in Queen St to see where it had been shelved.A comment on Lay's article reads: 'I went in to Whitcoulls and asked for a copy of Jane Eyre to give to a relative. The assistant asked, What did she write?'
It was nowhere to be seen. So without divulging that I was the author, I asked an assistant if she could show me where a new book, The Mentor, was.
She looked thoughtful. "Mentor. That's a kind of insect, isn't it?" And she pointed me in the direction of the Natural History section. "No, no, it isn't an insect," I protested. "Oh no, that's right." She thought again. "Mentor, mentor. Oh yes, that's right. It's not an insect, it's a creature. A half-man, half horse. Try the Classics Section. It's at the back of the shop."
- NZ Herald, 28 February 2011