Sunday, January 18, 2009

Picking up a few smashed plates

Blimey. We certainly didn't intend to take a six week sabbatical from blogging. Can't imagine what we were doing over the past month or so... I've come to the conclusion that the two groups of people that have the most intense time at Christmas are:
  • Parents with small children
  • People who run small retail establishments

So that's both boxes ticked for us then. Zowie, what a busy time. Running a bookshop in the run up to Christmas is something that is almost impossible to describe - and certainly something that is very difficult to prepare for unless you've been through it yourself. It's almost as if for nine months of the year you are preparing your staff and shop systems and procedures - and then in the final three months of the year these are tested to breaking point. Any flaws are horribly exposed. Like steadily accelerating a car that you've built yourself towards the finish line on December 24th, the danger is that above 90mph bits start flying off. We lost a couple of wing mirrors this year, but nothing too serious. Also, considering the amount of illness around this Winter, and the well-publicised supply chain disruptions caused by Woolworth's demise, we were extremely lucky in that we seemed to avoid both - I know others weren't so lucky. Anyway, whilst we did a good job of keeping most plates spinning, the blogging one well and truly fell off its pole. So for 2009, here's a shiny new plate and I've given it a really good spin. January is supposed to be a nice relaxing time for booksellers (or, alternatively, in common retail parlance: 'utterly dead'). This allows us to catch up on delightful things such as returns, accounts, general de-Christmassing and shop 'deep cleaning'. However, that's not exactly what has happened this January for us. First up, events. We have one of our biggest events to date this Tuesday (Jan 20) - an evening with Joanna Trollope. This event is important for lots of reasons - aside from having such a stellar literary name here in Abingdon. We are holding the event at St Helen & St Katharine in Abingdon, and have worked very closely with them in terms of planning and ticket sales. We hope it will become a model of how we run some of our events in the future. The event is also the first in a series of events for the "Mostly Booklovers" – a new initiative launched at the end of last year for book enthusiasts in and around Abingdon. The idea of the group is that they work with us to develop a regular line-up of book-related talks, with members helping us to select authors and host events, get discounted (or free) event tickets. Our aim - as always - is to put the bookshop at the heart of a thriving book community, who help us choose the authors that come to Abingdon. Nicki and I are pretty excited at the potential for this year, and we've already got some varied events lined up over the coming months. (Thanks to Radio Abingdon for the plug on their blog - unsolicited, but very much appreciated!) We've made sure our events have been uploaded to a new web initiative called the Abingdon Diary, which aims to pull together as many of events as possible going on in Abingdon. It's a great idea, and part of something called Choose Abingdon - more details of which will be released shortly I've been told...

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