Friday, December 21, 2012

3 4 Friday: The Best of Times, The Worst of Times and Happy Christmas

No matter how you plan it, this time of year always gets a bit 'hairy' (to use a technical retail term) with a combination of large numbers of people coming in for very specific and important purchases, and inevitable bottlenecks occurring. Our lovely little shop, which for large parts of the year gets variously described as beautiful or bijou, just seems a bit too small. Our careful stock selection and planning inevitable suffers one of two 'Christmas casualties' when a book is plucked from relative obscurity to become the big world-of-mouth hit after a storming performance by the author on 'Start The Week'.

(This year there have been relatively few of these - although it was a bit touch and go for a few days with the 'The Moomins and the Great Flood'...a fine book, and somewhat apt given the weather plus it's that date).

This time of year can be described as 'the best of times' the worst of times'. The best, because of course it is lovely to see the shop full of people, and our recommendations going down well. The worst, because pretty much all our best supporters and friends come into the shop, and we often race around like mad things with no time to catch up and ask about family. So it goes.

(In fact, my own particular brand of excitedly-arm-waving, over-caffeinated bookselling can cross a line at this time of year. I know this when customers back away at the slightly sleep-deprived yet manic chap in front of them. It's a fine line between a graceful dance around the shop, being friendly and effortlessly pulling recommendations from the shelf and someone slightly unhinged invading the old personal space...)

It's been quite a year for us, six and a bit years down the line. The book industry continues to change at a bewildering pace. But the future of the book as artifact and repository of knowledge seems to be secure. Whilst we have been very proud of our Angry Robot Clonefiles tie-up this year (and there will be more developments to come in 2013) we are also justly proud of continuing to do events, and place the physical book into people's hands to enjoy.

We've loved our events this year - highlights being Ben Goldacre at the Oxford Union, Frances Hardinge at St Nicolas Primary, Cressida Cowell at Kennington and the launch of MG Harris' final Joshua Files (very appropriate given its Mayan-shennanigans). We have plans for more in the new year...

One development that we've definitely noticed in recent months is - even from hardened digital readers - the ability to take a break from reading off a screen is something that seems to be increasingly valued. We feel the book will continue to take a twin-track approach, and the future will be both in print and on the screen. But we certainly recommend that you use a good book to drop off the grid for a while and give your head a break from the 24/7 digital onslaught...

For anyone we've not really spoken to this holiday season, thank you from all of us here at Mostly Books for your incredible support which allows us not only to survive, but thrive and still excited about running the shop. For everyone who dips into the babbling brooks that are our social media of blog, newsletter, Facebook and Twitter - we appreciate the support too.

So what is our final '3 4 Friday' of the year? Simply a Merry Christmas for you and your family, a happy and prosperous 2013 - and a gentle request that in all you do next year, make time for books.

1 comment:

  1. I've never thought of you as unhinged Mark, but then I'm sleep deprived and over caffeinated too so I suppose it's all relative! Merry Christmas!

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