- 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).