Friday, June 29, 2007

One Good Turn...Deserves a Blog

We were delighted this morning when we had 5 copies of Kate Atkinson's "One Good Turn". Floyd - who has been with us this week on work experience - has had rather a lot of books to unpack this week, but he spotted that these ones were on back order, just published and put them out on the table. We're very excited, we have a lot of Kate Atkinson fans, and this is a book we've had on order for a while. And then he noticed something a bit odd... They all had a big Tesco sticker on the front. OK, it happens, we had a book in this week which was pre-signed and had a big "signed in Waterstone's" sticker on the front, we just send these back as damaged. Then we looked again. A bit more closely. On the back of the book, actually printed on the cover, was "Tesco Book Club". There was a Tesco bookmark in it. There was "exclusive content" (which, as far as we can tell, is a letter inside telling you a bit about the club). Hang on a bit. Something is wrong here... Yes, one of our wholesalers (who shall remain nameless because I don't want to embarrass them) has sent out the Tesco Book Club edition to us in error. I hope we're the only ones because they might get in a bit of trouble otherwise... I can't work out whether this is a devious trick by Tescos to get greater coverage of the launch of their club? Or perhaps this is just meglomaniac Tesco boss Terry Leahy's way of keeping me awake even more at night as I huddle up under my duvet and consider a nightmare world where Tesco sells everything...yes, I think I can hear his maniacal laugh all the way from his mansion in Cuffley... In keeping with my post about Tesco a few weeks ago (which hopefully was ├╝ber-reasonable), I will just say that I think they've made a decent fist of it, and if it gets more people reading cracking authors such as Kate Atkinson, then well done. But it's another step towards world domination IMHO... Anyone else get the Tesco version by mistake today?

Saturday, June 16, 2007

The Final Piece

The final piece (or should that be slice?) in our nefarious plans for world domination came together this week - home-made cake. (Sounds of Dr-Evil style chuckling, etc.).
The cakes are courtesy of the newest member of the Mostly Books team, Alison. All this week our regulars have been sampling her cappucino cake, victoria sponge sandwich (made with buttercream and real raspberry jam) and lemon drizzle cake.

The cappucino cake was the clear favourite - and - being in a somewhat whimsical mood this week with a couple of decent night's sleep under my belt - I got me to thinking 'if this cake were a book, what book would it be?'.
The cappucino was definitely The Kite Runner of the three. Moist, flavoursome, multi-layered, universally admired by those that know their cake. After eating it, you have to think whether this was the best cake you've ever eaten, with everything else seeming a bit bland for a while afterwards.
Second was the Victoria Sponge - The Crowded Bed of the three. Initially considered a bit old-fashioned perhaps, pleasantly surprisingly and high-quality when tasted. This is surely a cake of quality, durability - more please.
Finally, the Lemon Drizzle. The What Was Lost of the three. In comparison with the high standards set by the other two, this had bags of potential and one to watch for the future, but needs more lemon.
So - if the freshly-ground, single origin coffee or fairtrade tea haven't grabbed you up until now, the new home-bake range makes it to the menu next week (in time for Abingdon's farmer's market on Monday morning). Hooray.
This week we did a bit of rearranging of the window display:

Yes, the deckchair is back. This is in anticipation of a very important event in two week's time: our first birthday - can you believe that? Just as we tried to blog each day as we counted down to opening all those months ago, we'll try to do a countdown again. And of course, you're all welcome to join us on June 30th at the shop for a glass or two of champagne...

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The World's Greatest Portrait Artist

On Saturday, we welcomed Korky Paul to Mostly Books for one of our biggest events to date. Whilst I have heard plenty of first-hand accounts of Korky's genius, this was the first time I'd seen him in action, and he was quite brilliant.

Usually, I finish an event report by thanking the author, but in this instance I'm going to start by thanking him (and may do so several times below). In theory, we had planned two 45-60 minute sessions at 11am and 2pm respectively, but Korky slaved away almost solidly from 11am until 4pm.

The weather on Saturday was evil - hot, humid, and in our suntrap garden the sun was beating down relentlessly, and yet he slaved away with infinite patience, good grace and effortless brilliance painting portraits of the children who had come along, and signing books. Above and beyond the call of duty, and much respect sir.
Korky kicked off by explaining what a portrait was, and why he is the world's greatest portrait artist:



The garden was standing room only, and I did get a bit worried about kids getting frazzled and people keeling over in the heat. We kept a constant supply of water jugs and cups coming out of the shop to keep people hydrated.
Here's a BenOsaurus Rex underway - Korky was also full of tips for aspiring artists, and mixed marker pens with paint to create the effects:
The children were spellbound - he has that wonderful knack that the best storytellers and entertainers have of commanding attention without resorting to gimmicks or patronising the crowd.
Here's Korky "counting spikes" for one of his young subjects:


As if that wasn't enough, Korky sat and chatted to families as he signed books - and I do hope he wasn't in trouble with his family for being extremely late back.

Having never done this before, we really didn't know quite how the event would run, and Korky did his best to do portraits of everyone, but in the end ran out of time. We do hope to have him back, so for those children disappointed at the end, let us know who you were.
Thanks once again to Korky for a wonderful event. Thanks are also due to Anu, who kept the shop running superbly whilst I was out the back, to Oliver and Simon who I worked almost as hard as Korky throughout the day, and finally to everyone who came along and sat in the garden - I hope you all had as good a day as I did!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Korky on Saturday

You always know when we've been busy at Mostly Books because the blogging gets pushed down the old to-do list. However, my to-do list is now such a teetering monster that I've decided to post anyway and give you a quick update of what's been going on in the shop.

Last week was half-term, and we embarked on a busy week of events. As well as storytime on Wednesday and Thursday, we had a bookmark-making day on the Tuesday, which was going great until the laminating machine conked out.

This Saturday we will be welcoming Korky Paul to the shop. For those that don't know Korky, he is the illustrator of such literary giants as Winnie The Witch and The Fish Who Could Wish (amongst many others). Korky has been top of our children's author wish list for some time, because anyone who has seen Korky perform with his portraits raves about it, so we're very excited.

We have two session booked, and - weather permitting - we will be doing them out in the courtyard garden. Both sessions are now full unfortunately, but we will be taking a lot of pictures and video for the blog for the after-event report...