Sunday, December 24, 2006
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Friday, December 22, 2006
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Monday, December 18, 2006
Friday, December 15, 2006
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Monday, December 04, 2006
Saturday, December 02, 2006
Tough one to call, huh? Why are these always customer orders...
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Friday, November 24, 2006
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Friday, November 17, 2006
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Monday, November 06, 2006
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Sunday, October 29, 2006
Friday, October 27, 2006
- Friendship books (auf deutsch, "Freundschaftbücher" - the lady who asked about these was German, and apparently they are very big in Germany). These are books that you write in and pass on. I found a website about Friendship Books, but I got the impression they were books you made yourself. Apparently you can buy books which are "ready to go" but couldn't seem to find anything on the web about it (aprt from this site).
- We have a new poetry section (something that was left over from our opening, and we get chastised about ocassionally). We're keen to provide accessibility to poetry - is there a good introduction to someone coming into modern poetry for the first time?
- One of our regular customers was looking for a good book about the tooth fairy, which contains some good guidance about the importance of dental health, etc. Both of us seemed to remember a story about a 'nasty toothfairy', ripped off a few years ago by the Listerine mouthwash commercials. Can't locate the book however...
- A 'very close family friend' (OK, its my Mum) is running a Christmas fun night, and wanted to know if there is a good book with Christmas stories, anecdotes, sayings, etc. To be honest, I wouldn't even know where to begin to look, there are so many books of that ilk...
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Butterflies were a popular choice - we asked everyone to sign their masterpieces:
Eli and her Mum - with crayon poised...
Possibly the best-coloured flowered...someone seems to think so anyway...
Mind you, I think next time we'll get the kids to make the mobile, whilst I colour in the pictures. Having bought a collection of lolly sticks, skewers, thread, etc. I wished we'd got a bit of advice before I started to try to make it.
It turned out that The Foulsham Family (that's Andy, Sally Ruth and Ben) were mobile-meisters, and told us we should have used green gardening sticks. Too late - but after a bit of wrestling, sticking, knotting (and mostly thanks to Karen on Monday, because I gave up Saturday evening!) here's the finished article:
(That Roald Dahl dumpbin is going ASAP - not one of our better decisions. Still, we're learning from our mistakes...)
Thanks to everyone who came, we hope you had as much fun as we did...
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Friday, October 06, 2006
Monday, October 02, 2006
- Mr B's opened on July 1st (admittedly with a big celebrity author, as opposed to me almost barfing in the entrance)
- They have made extensive use of blogging (albeit theirs is in the more salubrious location of the Guardian culture pages)
- Reading through the blog, their initial stock ordering experience was described as death by spreadsheet (check)
- They have a cupboard behind the counter teetering with publishing catalogues
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Monday, September 25, 2006
Saturday, September 16, 2006
Thursday, September 14, 2006
We've added an extra bookcase in the front of the shop (far right).
In the children's room we have improved the lighting:
But - taa dah - at the back of the room, where a dark and underused bookcase used to be...
We now have a splendid, custom-built children's bookrack with its own spotlight - here's the reverse view:
And finally - here's the current window from yesterday's Roald Dahl Day:
On Saturday, we have our first author event - Bella Balistica local author Adam Guillain will be performing in store at 11am on Saturday. He will be performing a music and storytelling session, talking about writing and his involvement with the Roald Dahl celebrations. He will also be happy to sign copies of his books. We invite everyone who reads the blog to bring their family to meet and talk to Adam.
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
Saturday, September 02, 2006
- A book on the rules of cricket - written for children (10-13 years). I have cheekily posted this query over on Charkblog as well, as cricket is a topic that comes up frequently.
- Children's book involving a "boy who dreams of a rocket"
Any help gratefully received as always...
Sunday, August 27, 2006
Thursday, August 24, 2006
I read somewhere that - when performing - Elvis Presley would insist on having his trailer exactly 1000 yards from the venue. During this 1000 yard walk, no matter what state he was in (from drugs, drink, squirrel burgers, etc.) by the time he got to the stage, he was in the mindset of 'The King' that would allow him to perform.
I can't say exactly what the mindset of a bookseller is yet, and my walk this morning was a tad over 1000 yards, but there's definitely something in this. A nice walk, fresh air, getting in the mood to talk to people about books. And the walk home this evening allowed me to slough off the day before getting back to the house.
Today we suffered a mix-up with our local Waitrose. At 2pm today we hadn't had our scheduled delivery of books from Gardners, and as there were a couple of customer orders in there ("yes, they will definitely be here today") I was getting a little nervous. I then got a phonecall from someone called Rob at Waitrose: "We've got your books".
Waitrose is about 5 minutes walk from us (in fact, if I'm in a hurry, it's faster to walk home through their car park). Plenty of our customers take advantage of the car parking there to pop in. So I ran round there to see what had happened. They had received an order from Gardners (now we know where they get their books!) and the Parcel Force guy had lobbed out our box along with theirs (they had more boxes than us - sob). They had already unpacked and checked off all the books, but I think 'Rob' smelled a rat when he came across some Betjeman poetry, a 1940s Agatha Christie anthology, "My Name Is Red" by Orhan Pamuk, and an obscure hardback children's book called "The Runaway Dinner". We're no longer in Kansas, etc. Anyway - thanks to Rob for tracking our shop down and giving us a ring. What a star.
Monday, August 21, 2006
Sunday, August 13, 2006
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
- Don't worry about it until we know something more tangible (although we took note of all the advice from Mr Laties and others).
- Continue with our policy of developing our lovely bookshop as our first priority and, really, the only thing we have real control over.
- Start making offerings and the odd sacrifice to the "Good Luck" message from Tim Waterstone proudly on display on the wall behind our counter. (Perhaps we could start with ritual disembowling of some of our least-loved books??)
I went to a talk given by Tim Waterstone just as our idea of opening a bookshop looked like becoming a reality - and of course, bought his book. I seem to remember that when Tim started Waterstones, he'd been booted out of WHSmith and effectively carried out a 15 year vendetta to squash them into the dirt (they in turn allegedly ran an internal corporate 'book' taking bets on when he'd go bankrupt - nice, eh?).
I don't think Waterstones would be quaking in their boots over anything we do.
Talking of getting inspiration from great booksellers, I had to go to London yesterday, and took the opportunity to wander a couple of times around Waterloo until I located Crockatt & Powell (both the bookshop and the owners themselves). I urge anyone in London (and outside for that matter) to seek them out, marvel in the utter wonderfulness of their stock selection, and (of course) buy a book or seven. Adam, Matthew, it was a pleasure to meet you both, and, as through the blog you were generous to a fault in advice and inspiration.I'd like to repeat our invite for anyone in the blogosphere thinking of coming tomorrow evening. 6-8pm, wine and books. Lots of both. We hope to see you here.
Friday, August 04, 2006
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Monday, July 24, 2006
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
- A creeping fear that - during a slow day - a minor change made to the window display has somehow deterred book buyers;
- A nagging doubt that after the first customer has purchased one of your star books in pride of place on the front table, the next 4 visitors to the shop who left without buying anything wanted that exact book;
- The fact that the pirate-related titles you ordered from the wholesaler are currently out-of-stock is not because you're new to this and didn't order in time, but is, in fact a cunning spoiler from rival bookshops;
- The face-out biography of Jeremy Clarkson leering at you across the room is blighting your entire biography section;
- Everything you've heard about or read about that should be selling, isn't - so why aren't people buying those titles from our shop?
Of course, it's a bit much for us to start drawing too many conclusions from two and a bit weeks of bookselling, but I think focusing on chatting with and getting to know our customers has been a good antidote to BP.
Paranoia aside, one official thing we have learned from our 2.5 weeks is that we absolutely love this job. We knew we liked books. But now there are the customers. And we love them too. Yacking all day with people about their enthusiasm for books has got to be the best way to spend the day. It is a privilege.
Here's a few other things we've learned so far:
- The demand for coffee seems to drop off exponentially above 30 degrees.
- You wouldn't believe how long it takes to mop the floor of a small shop (when do normal booksellers get their cleaning done? Not sneaking in on a Sunday, the only day we're closed, I'll be bound).
- We have a lot to learn about stock ordering and management - but thanks to advice from Crockatt & Powell, Andy Laties and Wenlock Books (amongst many others) our opening stock was well received. It's such a joy when people tell you it's like the library of every book they'd like to have at home, or that it's so nice to have a bookshop run by people who obviously read books.
- Displays make a huge difference, and one of the big jobs we have hardly scratched the surface of yet is writing our recommendations.
- DHL have the most cheerful delivery drivers.
- You don't sell any Fifi and the Flowertot activity packs - and then three go in one day.
- It turns out you can have too many copies of the Da Vinci Code.
- No matter what you've got in stock and what you think you've got a small knowledge about, people ask for help choosing the most bizarre catagories.
- Just as we're breathing a sigh of relief about getting our opening stock looking nice, we realise we should be ordering for pre-Christmas.
- People do want to shop local.
- I think the biggest thing we've learned is that Abingdon is full of delightful people who love books and do seem to want a shop in their town centre where they can enjoy shopping. The positive feedback we've received from people wanting us to do well has been tremendous. Aside from the fact that it's where we live, we couldn't have wished for a better place to open our shop, or receive a warmer welcome from everyone (literally today - it was 33 degrees).