Anyway, part of the talk was to stress that, to make a modern bookshop work, there are a large variety of different events that go on around the core retail operation, so (to any of the students visiting this page) this blog post is sort of a ‘refresher’ to the main part of the talk.
To start with, here are the students themselves who gamely posed for a photo during a talk about our experience of blogging (and the proof that I never miss a chance for something to put on the blog):
and of course their fine lecturers lurking in the corner:
It was an interesting week to give such a talk. Two week’s previously we had had our fun-packed, white-knuckle ride of an event with Gervase Phinn, and last Monday (by way of a bookgroup meeting or two) I had had an extremely intense meeting in London, the climax to nearly four months of a debut novel-reading marathon, being a judge for the Costa awards this year. The four-book shortlist that we decided on will be announced on Front Row next Tuesday (16th Nov), but all three of us are hoping that the list represents a diverse and engaging collection of the best new writing, and a snapshot of the state of new novels in the past year. It was a huge responsibility choosing books from the list of over 40 books that I received, knowing that selection may mean the difference between a new author 'making it' or not.
(Once the shortlist is out BTW, there are other books that deserve an honourable mention from the books that I read, and I look forward to breaking silence on these next week.
Then last Saturday, we were very honoured to be invited along to run a bookshop at the Storyteller’s Conference, at the (it has to be said, gorgeous) offices of OUP in Oxford, organised by the Oxford Children’s Book Group.
Having never been to OUP before, I was utterly charmed by the place. With its white walls, and the oasis of calm that greets you on entering the 'quad', it almost seemed like a kind of bookseller version of heaven (with the state-of-the-art security system on the front acting as a kind of eye-of-the-needle to get your camel through, or in this case, a Ford Focus, which I was using to deliver the books):
Speaking and signing copies of their books were the children's illustrators Sarah McIntyre and Layn Marlow...Mary Hoffman (author of the extranvaganza series, amongst many other fab books).
Larkmead Literary Festival earlier in the year, it was great to do another event with him. Random House Children's Books have produced a gorgeous bind-up of four of Philip’s tales in one book (Four Tales, naturally), which looks splendid and Christmassy – and if you are lucky we may have some signed copies in the shop for a few more days:
Annabel, we believe we have raised over £600 towards the appeal.
And finally today I had the opportunity to travel to Foyles in London, for a meeting as part of the build-up for a very exciting country-wide book event next March (more on that in the next few weeks). Suffice to say that I did spend a few minutes walking around this iconic and wonderful bookstore, breathing in great gulp-fulls of rarefied bookselling air in what is a magical building for books…
The trick with all of this activity is not to detract from the running of the bookshop. So, my final question to the students on the course. Is bookselling dead? Discuss...