Friday, August 04, 2006
The pleasures (and perils) of fame
Well we have officially passed our first month of being open. We are starting to feel we are getting the hang of things (starting) and are now hardly ever making a mess of our stock orders (hardly), like mysteriously receiving several copies of things we don't even remember ordering and suddenly having zero books in stock of our bestselling authors. Duh. Anyway, we did plan to open rather quietly so we could practise our novel bookselling skills on just a few unsuspecting people, who have been very wonderful and kind and patient as we look goggle eyed at the till and realise we have no Philip Pullmans. Duh again. However, now we have actually started getting complaints from people for not making greater effort to let people know we are here, we have taken steps. Our first step came in the form of a local journalist, who came along today with her mum, who bought some books and settled down in our fabulous Penguin "The Garden Party" deckchair (in our window) and said it was so comfortable she fell asleep. We expect sales to rocket, and may hire her to sit there full time. Our friendly local journalist listened very charmingly as we went on, literally, for hours, about how totally wonderful it is to open a bookshop. There is always a point when talking to anyone with a tape recorder where you suddenly wonder what on earth you just said and knowing it's going to sound pretty stupid. And there is definitely a danger when we talk about the bookshop that we do sound like a couple of overexcited schoolchildren who are just having the best time in the world. So apologies and thanks for this morning. We were lucky that the lady who came to interview us shares an equal enthusiasm for books and had some great contacts. We really hope to approach some of the lesser known local authors to head up our events list. (Local authors beware - we know who you are.) Our first event, as mentioned previously, will take place next Thursday and is partly an official opening and mostly a thank you to all those wonderful people who have stepped into our shop and made the whole experience come alive for us. We are hoping for a good turn out and good weather so we can make the most of our courtyard garden. We have also invited our local MP - Dr Evan Harris - who was at the local Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting yesterday morning. After the event finished, he came up to the shop and bought/ordered some books (I promised to make it clear they were presents for his long-suffering researchers and assistants!). We were really honoured. Evan is a genuinely nice guy, and an MP who is very well-respected both locally and within Westminster. He also has an excellent taste in books I'm bound to add. (I have, incidentally, been mistaken for him twice. Both times were in B&Q in Abingdon bizarrely. Perhaps it's the lighting?) And then somebody else suggested today that we invite the Mayor, which we then did (we'll find out next week if he's coming, but with six days we can't blame him if he can't make it). So all in one day we seem to have expanded from opening in a very quiet way to being interviewed by the press and having the possibility of having both the local MP and the mayor at our opening do. Which is all rather good news as we did have some bad news the week. It was a bit of a bombshell actually - apparently a group from Waterstones was in Abingdon a few weeks ago investigating the feasibility of opening a bookshop . . .