Friday, July 07, 2006

Coffee ahoy!

As I may have mentioned once or twice on this blog, I am a bit of a connoisseur for the old "success literature". Chances are that if there's a book on positive thinking, succeeding in business, making a million, etc. I not only have read it, but can quote extensively from it, and it's most likely in my personal 'stash'. A favourite quote of mine is from a guy called Kemmons Wilson, who you probably have never heard of. However, you will almost certainly have heard of the chain of hotels he founded - Holiday Inn. One of his 'twenty tips for success' is "Work only half a day; it makes no difference which half - it can be either the first 12 hours or the last 12 hours". Arf arf. I was thinking of Kemmons this evening. Nicki and I are on another mammoth umpteen hour day (it's currently 11pm and she's working on some point of sale material). This evening we moved a fridge-freezer into the back of the shop, dismantled some existing shelving to do so, and did some more work on the children's room. But tomorrow...taa daa! We shall be serving coffee. The grandparents are babysitting Alex, and a good friend of ours is volunteering to help out in the shop, so we're going for it. The Gaggia has been dumped in the back of the shop, so we shall be going with cafetieres. Today (Friday) was a slow day until the afternoon (when I took over from Nicki). Firstly a teacher enthused over the shop and went off with armfuls of children's books (the children's book room is proving really popular). Hooray. Then several things happened which kind of illustrate just why I'm genuinely having the time of my life being a bookseller:
  • I'd just finished putting out our new range of Persephone Books, when someone walked in who collects them. She was able to tell me all about various books, to such an extent that I was able to recommend one to a customer later in the afternoon. She was delighted - a gift for a difficult-to-buy-for gardening and literature lover.
  • We've started writing "mostly books" recommendations. The rule is we have to write sincere recommendations about books we have read or authors we are passionate about - or else stick to facts (e.g. "won the booker prize in 2001"). My first attempt was for an Elizabeth David volume of collected cookery writing, and today a customer bought one on the strength of that recommendation.
  • A customer came in asking if we had "Miss Garnet's Angel" by Salley Vickers. Now, I read this book and loved it (not my usual reading material I have to say), and felt sure we had it, and thus blithely leapt from behind the counter to get it for the customer. But we didn't have it. So I rashly promised it to the customer by Tuesday - and if we can't get it, I've promised to lend her mine (I've since found out it's in reprint and won't be available until mid-July, so I'd better dig it out over the weekend).

Anyway - a full coffee report will follow tomorrow evening or Sunday. I'm sure we're pushing the boundaries of our lease by serving coffee (and possibly some cake as well) , but we've plastered 'and coffee too' over all our marketing materials and everyone tells us that coffee is an essential part of the whole book browsing experience, we're going to have to dig around and find out exactly what we can do and find some way of making it work...

3 comments:

  1. Jackie10:01 AM

    Now there's a spooky coincidence - I only found out about Persephone books last night on another website, and I'm completely hooked - must come in and have a look at some in real life!

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  2. So glad the Persephone Books are successful; we run two reading groups devoted to the Persephone catalogue, reading one every three months then gathering round the table to discuss them with a glass of sherry! The discussions are always fascinating, and so far, I haven't read a bad book (though the current one, a biography of Julian Grenfell, is depressing because of its subject matter (doomed youth dies in WWI) but well written all the same, and I can't wait to discuss it!

    Regarding the coffee, my lease doesn't allow me to sell food or drink because I have a deli one side, and a pub the other; so I just give it away! Its always well received, and as I said to the Guardian the other day, I wouldn't charge people for tea or coffee in my home, so it has just become part of what we do. The non-financial return is more than compensated for by the feel-good factor!

    Re Miss Garnett's Angel: because of this book, we are leading a Readers Trip to Venice (otherwise called "Following Miss Garnett"!) in October. We still have a couple of places....

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