Friday, July 25, 2008

Ah, Summer

This time last year: rain, floods, Harry Potter. This year, well - the weather hasn't been fabulous, but the warm sunshine of the last few days has been very welcome. I do like selling books in my shorts.

We ummed and ahhed about HP7 in PB. Pre-order months ahead, 10% returns, etc. In the end - we didn't order any. And after Asda's £1 stunt captured 79% of the market (or something) I'm jolly glad we didn't. Last year there was bad blood between Bloomsbury and Asda. I guess revenge is a dish best served...cheap.

Anyway, Nicki and I had a wonderful week away from the shop - and the shop ran like clockwork. Major kudos to everyone involved, and only one phonecall all week (although I did sneak away on the Tuesday of our holiday to attend a BA forum on social networking. Ironically my recommendation was to 'blog regularly' - a case of 'do as I say, not as I do' there methinks, as this blog hasn't been updated for a couple of weeks).

Last year we had a visit from a remarkable lady called Linda - read how we blogged this at the time (you'll need to scroll down to the bottom of the post) - who came into the shop, and asked us to recommend "books for someone who cannot read". It turned out Linda was completely illiterate. Linda was about to take part in a documentary following her progress as part of a new approach to teaching adult literacy, and last Monday the documentary finally appeared on Channel 4. "Can't Read, Can't Write" was an at-times difficult to watch (and emotionally intense) look at the progress made a group of adults learning to read. Linda is now reading voraciously - and I can recommend the documentary series to anyone who cares about adult literacy, and how literacy is taught in schools.

We made a brief appearance on the documentary - and we will also be on Thames Valley Tonight (I think it's called that - I can't quite keep up with the 'itv' rebranding) sometime this week. They did an interview with Geraldine McCaughrean in the shop last Thursday, and she was talking about why independent bookshops are so important:




Not sure when it will appear on the programme...

Yesterday we had an unexpected and delightful visit from Vanessa and Malcolm from the Children's Bookshop in Edinburgh. A few years ago (when I was involved in the early days of web publishing) we used to talk about 'web pilgrims', people who would suddenly turn up in real life having discovered you on the web. Having previously followed the exploits of Vanessa through the Fidra Blog, it was really nice to meet them over a cup of tea in the garden. We were able to swap bookshop 'war stories', and - more importantly - discuss ideas for events and recommendations for children's books. I have an open invite to visit the shop in Edinburgh, so some advance planning may be needed for this. Incidentally, they have a brilliant children's author booked for an event in the autumn, and although I can't reveal to much about who it is, I'm jolly envious 'cos he's one of my favourite authors...

Back to events in our shop. We've got a whole series of children's events coming up over August (more about this on our events page) but tonight we welcome local author Sarah Stovell, author of Mothernight. Published by the wonderful SnowBooks, Sarah intriguingly has a background as an antiquarian bookselling (something which I'm interested to know more about, not sure if anyone else will though). Mothernight has been garnering some impressive reviews since it's release earlier this year - take a look here, here and here. And also read the recent interview by Andrew Ffrench in the Oxford Mail. The whole thing kicks off tonight at 7.30pm, and we do have a few tickets left, although you may be perched on the counter stool if you turn up too late ...

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