Thursday, June 29, 2006
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Thursday, June 22, 2006
We had a wonderful, inspirational day yesterday and visited the Independent bookseller of the Year, Wenlock Books in Much Wenlock.
The owner, Anna Dreda, could not have been more helpful or welcoming and gave us some brilliant pointers about ranges and titles to sell, new ideas (eg a children's book group) and was generally a source of much inspiration. Most importantly the whole bookshop gave us a first-hand feeling of how much atmosphere can be steeped into a good bookshop by someone with a deep love of books. Thank you Anna for showing us so much kindness and giving us something so clear to aspire to. I can heartily recommend a trip to anyone.
So with ten days to opening, how are we faring? Our first order has gone in with Gardners and they have been utterly brilliant and are delivering it TODAY. About twenty boxes. We are unfeasibly excited. The plan is still to sneak in our books around the cookware, building shelves in the evening and gradually turning the shop from mostly a cookshop to mostly a bookshop over the course of this week.
We did have a vague idea that we might not need to fix the bookcases to the wall until we were absolutely sure where they were going to go. But with the listing floor of our listed building we rejected this on health and safety ground as we didn't want anyone suing before we'd even opened by being trampled by 100 Lonely Planet titles.
The first stock order is mostly our cookery, garden, homes and lifestyle titles, which will fit in best with the current look and feel of the shop. These were the easiest titles to come up with, although it was a bit of a lesson because when I went through the list getting all the ISBN numbers I did slowly realise that actually most the stock in our shop is going to be a basic extension of the sort of books we have at home. And I thought I was being so objective.
Thus we have quite a stash of titles on healthy living, aren't trees wonderful, going for long walks and you too can grow carrots in an unfeasibly small space. And not a lot on, say, bonsai. (wouldn't every right-minded person prefer to grow tomatoes?) So as long as all our customers are slightly green, keen cooks who like getting their hands dirty we'll be fine.
The fiction has been more problematic as I have desperately tried not to be too judgmental and only include titles I feel I can personally recommend. So going through on my ISBN trawl I have been guilty of thinking 'oh no I read that and it was terrible' and then noticing it's the top one hundred bestseller and gritting my teeth and keeping it in the list. It has not been easy. Even worse, I notice that my highlighted list of 'hot summer reads' is actually mostly my personal list of what I would like to read after the pent-up demand of enforced non-book-buying over the last few months. And I do appreciate I have slightly quirky taste and am now pondering whether the biography of Mrs Beeton is really likely to be considered a 'hot summer read' by anyone other than myself. Still, there you go.
The other problem is that I have a vivid picture of myself slapping people's hand's away as they try to buy the latest Kate Atkinson and snapping I HAVEN'T HAD A CHANCE TO READ THAT YET. (Wouldn't you prefer a nice book on bonsai?) and keep sneakily hoping that no-one turns up to buy anything so I can just lock the door and get on with some serious reading. But it's probably just all down to too many hours at the keyboard tracking down ISBN numbers.
Anyway. We have chic and charming cards, penguin book mugs, charlie and lola notelets and pencil sets all converging on the shop over the next few days. All we need is some customers to buy them. Let's hope it rains. Our major disaster for this week was that we had called BT months ago to check how easy it was to change the phone line and keep the number and install broadband. As they said it was all perfectly simple and only needed a couple of days' notice, we shifted it to the bottom of our somewhat lengthy to do list. Only to discover on phoning on Monday that it's all hideously complicated and will take forever. Not ideal as we have our computerised real-time, on-line stock control and ordering system arriving on Tuesday, about three months ahead of having any phone line.
Mark did get slightly annoyed during the course of the conversation and I have to say, Mark never, ever gets annoyed with anyone. But the upshot is that we can actually keep the same telephone number, which is fortunate as it is appearing all over the 5,000 bags we have ordered which are also arriving just-in-time this week.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Monday, June 19, 2006
Inside, the shop resembles a grotto of second-hand books, and whilst German, Dutch and French books are stocked, the vast majority are English books:
Julie herself has been running the shop for several years - she was a bit disconcerted with me taken her photo, but here she is:
She is now interested in selling the shop as a going concern. I promised to mention this on the blog. So if you've always wanted to run a bookshop in the Algarve, now's your chance.Contact Julie at: Julie's Bookshop, Rua Igreja Nova, No 6 , 8200 Albufeira, Portugal. Telephone: 0035 289 58 54 96 (Email me for her mobile number - I didn't get her email address).
Sunday, June 18, 2006
- The trip was for Mum's 60th birthday, and the entire family was gathered together for the week
- It had been organised about 2 years ago whilst Mostly Books was but a mere twinkle in our eyes
- We spent a large part of the week making phone calls, sending emails and making last minute revisions to the shop layout / stock order
- It's the last holiday we'll be having for some time we think...
It is now less than two weeks until opening and we're trying not to panic. We'll try to keep short updates throughout the entire time (probably in the wee small hours by either myself or Nicki, eyelids drooping).
Anyway, back to the Algarve. In between sitting on the beach, playing huge games of highly competitive family french cricket, and sitting round sneaking the odd bit of World Cup footy, books were never far from our thoughts.
Unable to relax by the pool, I decided instead to perform a (completely unscientific) poll of poolside reading amongst the overwhelmingly British clientele. I tried to do it surreptitiously, but I'm sure at least one of the woman reading thought I was oggling her. Anyway, the results (in the order I furtively scrawled them down over the course of the day) were as follows - and an interesting breakdown they make:
- Alan Titchmarsh (hardback) - title unknown
- Tongue in Cheek - Fiona Walker
- Latest John Grisham
- 3 Dan Browns (but no Da Vinci Code - probably no-one left in the Western world who hasn't read it yet, and if there are, they don't holiday in the Algarve)
- Philip Short - Pol Pot: The History of a Nightmare (jolly holiday reading I thought)
- Jarhead - Anthony Swofford
- Lace 2 - Shirley Conran (unnamed middle-aged male reading this one)
- Faithless - Karin Slaughter
- A Man Named Dave - Dave Pelzer
- We need to talk about Kevin - Lionel Shriver
- Jordan: A Whole New World - Katie Price (woman reading it without a cover, so not obvious from a distance. Some guilt involved?)
- On Ice - David Ramus
- The Seventh Wave - Emma Sinclair
- A Tale Etched in Blood and Hard Black Pencil - Christopher Brookmyre
- Blackout - Chris Ryan
- A Jackie Collins novel (moved away before noting title due to potential oggling accusations)
- A walk to remember - Nicholas Sparks
- Sheer Abandon - Penny Vincenzi
- A Cuppa Tea and an Aspirin - Helen Forrester
- Vanishing Acts - Jodi Picoult
Serendipity in a list. I'm sure someone could write a PhD thesis on this: Influence of size of pool, average daytime temperature, etc. But for now, it's back to the shopfitting...
Saturday, June 10, 2006
Here's a view inside the front of the shop (imagine the warm welcome from the knowledgable and enthusiastic staff):
The view through the rear window onto the courtyard garden (imagine passing this en route to the garden, a couple of volumes and a coffee in hand):
And finally out into the garden (imagine lounging in what is a suntrap with book + coffee - I'm afraid I don't know what the shrubbery is):
Finally, a shot from the back of the shop. The wall on the right is part of the original Abingdon 'city wall'. The whole building is listed (and listing in places - there isn't a straight line in the entire shop) which makes fitting bookshelves a bit of a challenge:
Thursday, June 08, 2006
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
- More in-store preparation - and a sneak peak on the blog inside the Stert Street site
- Following up with those authors who have contacted us over the past month with suggestions on stocking their books.
- Coffee-related shenanigans (barista training!)
- Me coming to terms with the loss of my works' laptop...
OK - back to the cut and pasting...