Our History

CAPERS Bookstore is managed by Sarah Cornfoot. Her mother, Jan, started the business in 1988 and ownership transferred in recent years to Sarah, although Jan organizes our events.

Sarah was actively involved in CAPERS from an early age, and whilst attending Melbourne University, worked in other bookstores. Sarah has a Masters in Gender and Development from Melbourne University (the Masters focused on maternal health in developing countries) and she then worked as a freelance researcher. In 2013, Sarah moved CAPERS back from Melbourne to Maleny.

In recent years we expanded our CAPERS for Children section to include a selection of books on pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, siblings and family, and grief and loss. Our interest in children’s books and quality toys has been enhanced by the arrival of Jan’s grandchildren, Emily, Georgia, Zoe, Poppy, Noah and more recently Sarah’s sons, Xavier and Riley. Their photographs sometimes appear in CAPERS catalogues. It was the pregnancy and birth in 1975 of Jan’s eldest son, Scott (father to Emily, Georgia and Zoe), that led Jan down this path.

Jan originally trained as an accountant, but during her first pregnancy (1974-5) she became involved with local, national and international consumer advocacy and support groups. From 1979-1988, Jan was International Director for the International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA), then based in Minneapolis USA. In 1987, seeing the benefits of networking, sharing resources and speaker tours, Jan started CAPERS (an acronym for Childbirth And Parenting Education Resources & Services).

In 1992, CAPERS started publishing the journal Birth Issues which was, for many years, the only peer-reviewed journal in Australia and New Zealand with this childbirth and breastfeeding focus. Birth Issues was indexed by CINAHL and the Australasian Medical Index (AMI), and articles are available through www.informit.com.au  Publication of the journal ceased in December 2006 as Jan was seriously ill at that time.

Since 1976, Jan has organised many conferences and workshops (for ICEA and other consumer groups and since 1988, for CAPERS). Invited speakers for CAPERS events in Australia and New Zealand have included: Janet Balaskas, Sheila Kitzinger, Thomas W Hale, Lawrence Gartner, James McKenna, Teri Shilling, Gabrielle Palmer, Rukhsana Haider, Marshall Klaus, Jean Sutton, Pauline Scott, Murray Enkin, Karen Guilliland, Charles Mahan, Steve Biddulph, William Sears, Penny Simkin, Diony Young, Ruth Lubic, Chloe Fisher, Nils Bergman, Jack Newman, Fiona Giles, Sandra Lang, Howard Chilton, Denis Walsh, Peter Hartmann, Donna Geddes, Angela Smith, Ruth Worgan, Mary Lantry, Alison Barrett, Carol Bartle, Jan Roberts, Lisa Amir, Sara Wickham, Shea Caplice, Hannah Dahlen, Sheryl Sidery, Carolyn Hastie, Christina Smillie, Maggie Banks, Kathleen Murphy, Sarah George, Simone Keddy, Sandra Venables, Paula Dillon, Mike Woolridge, Cathy Watson Genna, Rhea Dempsey, Jessie Johnson Cash and Rachel Reed.

Jan assisted with the organizing of Conferences for ILCA (International Lactation Consultant Association) in Australia in 2003 and 2013. In the USA, Jan worked with Diony Young, former long-time editor of the BIRTH Journal (a Blackwell Wiley publication), on several of their annual Conferences.

Our largest event is The Passage to Motherhood Conference, which we have presented regularly over the last 20 years. These conferences are always a wonderful opportunity for midwives to come together and have always featured both invited keynote speakers and presentations by local midwives and researchers. 

The Passage to Motherhood 2013 Conference was held on the Gold Coast, and speakers included Michel Odent, Mike Woolridge, Cathy Watson Genna, Thomas Hale and Alison Barrett. For the first time, we also had The Crafting Womb setting up a knitting circle and participants knitted squares for blankets for the Hamlin Fistula Ethiopa hospital. In May 2015, 250 midwives attended The Passage to Motherhood Conference in Brisbane, with keynote speakers Michel Odent, Sara Wickham and Hannah Dahlen. The 2017 Conference was even more popular, and invited speakers included Sara Wickham, Christina Smillie, Hannah Dahlen and Alison Barrett, with Ginny Phang (Spinning Babies), Rhea Dempsey (Childbirth Education), Sara Wickham (Labour Progress) and Christina Smillie (Breastfeeding skills) presented Pre-Conference Workshops.

Previous seminars and workshops have included: Breastfeeding Update and Ethics in Lactation Practice with Carol Bartle; Grief and Loss: The Crying Time with Shea Caplice and Hannah Dahlen, and the Midwifery Update workshops, Using our Head, Heart and Hands, with Shea Caplice and Sheryl Sidery. For 15 years we presented Breastfeeding seminars with Mary Lantry, Angela Smith and Ruth Worgan. We introduced a practical Midwifery Workshop, Managing Birth Variations and Complications facilitated by Rachel Reed in 2012, and these proved popular around Australia. We also started new Grief and Loss workshops, with Paula Dillon.

In 2016 and 2017, CAPERS offered new one-day midwifery workshops in Brisbane and Melbourne featuring some of our previous regular presenters (Sarah George, Rachel Reed, Jessie Johnson-Cash, Paula Dillon, Shea Caplice and Rhea Dempsey). We also presented breastfeeding workshops with Christina Smillie and with Cathy Watson Genna. In 2018, we had a national tour by Sheena Byrom and Soo Downe, co-editors of Roar Behind the Silence. This complemented workshops focusing on compassion training for midwives and mothers and mental health with psychologist, Amanda Donnet.

In 2019, we stopped events intending to have a short break. However, we have not been able to resume our events due to the global pandemic and its repercussions on travel and professional education.

In 2024, we will be closing down CAPERS Bookstore after 37 years. We are currently selling our final stock at substantial discounts.

Jan & Sarah Cornfoot, CAPERS Bookstore