Friday, October 31, 2014

The Lure of the Signed Copy

When booksellers get together they talk about many things - how their shops are doing, bookish discoveries they have made, that sort of thing. But perhaps the best anecdotes - reserved for late evenings in the bar at conferences - involve author events, brushes with celebrities...and the pursuit of the signed copy.

We've had some great encounters over the years with authors (the knitted Alan Titchmarsh dolls presented to him by a huge fan being a particular highlight). From other booksellers, Bookseller Crow's profanity-laden Adrian Edmundson signed copy (warning: hugely offensive) is also a stand-out, and there's a fabulous tale of a big-name cricketer from the 80s doing a very grumpy (and hung-over) signing in Manchester - but the bookseller (and cricketer) must remain nameless...

But there's no mistaking the lure of the signed copy. Dedications are great, but where this isn't possible a signed copy makes a wonderful gift. Booksellers themselves are not immune - when last year we got a few signed copies of astronaut Chris Hadfield's book a few days before Christmas, one of them mysteriously ended up in my stocking, and boy was a I chuffed.

We've become aficionados of the author signature over the years. Some signatures are a work of art (Hilary Mantel's - above - springs to mind), some have obviously evolved after many years of signing thousands of books (Take a look at Derek Landy's signature - but as the Skulduggery Pleasant books are so awesome, we're not complaining!).

Chris Bradford's signature has morphed in the years we've been doing an event with him into something approaching a sword (very appropriate) and I particularly like the addition of a 'stamp' or two - our recent event with Megan Rix saw the odd paw print making its way across the page...

For insane amounts of effort for every single signature, it would be hard to beat Raymond Blanc. We watched him sit for nearly four hours signing hundreds of autographs until his kitchen-hardened hands almost went into spasm.

There are definitely health and safety issues. For some authors, repeated signing can definitely take it's toll (Jodi Picoult sported an elbow heat pack when she visited us a few years back).

Anyway, for today's 3 4 Friday #FridayReads here are three signed copies we're particularly pleased to have in the shop at the moment...

A new addition to CJ Sansom’s ‘Shardlake’ series is always a great event for fans, and the stories of the hunchbacked lawyer Matthew Shardlake during the reign of Henry VIII have already become classics. ‘Lamentation’ sees Shardlake again plunged into the deadly mix of plots, persecution and momentous history, investigating another mystery, this time set against the backdrop of an ailing Henry. We have a few signed copies – so please let us know if we can reserve one for you.

For those well-loved characters who outlive their authors though, death is not necessarily the end. In recent years, it’s become increasingly common for a well-loved character – Bond, Jeeves and Wooster, Philip Marlowe – to be resurrected by a current author, and can be fraught with controversy and risk. Sophie Hannah has just performed the incredible feat of bringing back Agatha Christie’s ‘Poirot’ in ‘The Monogram Murders’. When the book was announced, fans of both authors held their breath – but everyone can relax. Christie ueber-fan Hannah is the perfect person to resurrect the well-loved Belgian, as he investigates a triple-murder at a plush London hotel in 1929. Infused with the things that make Christie and Hannah so appealing – skilful plotting, psychological depth and not a small amount of wicked humour – this is pure enjoyment. We have fond memories of when Sophie came to a literary dinner we held in Abingdon a few years ago, so we’re delighted that she has signed copies for us – and beautiful they are too!

Finally, a big favourite with both staff and customers is Susan Hill, and a lovingly-produced hardback ghost story from Susan has almost become a Christmas tradition. This year ‘Printer’s Devil Court’ sees a truly unsettling ghost story set in Edwardian London. With echoes of Frankenstein, this tale of dark experiments involving four medical students is quick enough to read in a single sitting, but stays with you long after you finish. Signed copies of a beautifully produced edition available from us now.

We've other authors in stock - Hilary Mantel, and Bone Clocks author David Mitchell - so pop in and take a look. We're also taking pre-orders for our sold-out event with comedian David Mitchell on Nov 13. And if you want something really rare and collectible - take a look here...

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Books Are My Bag 2014 - three events, five days, huge fun!

We had such a fantastic day with our authors at the 'Books Are My Bag' Bookshop Party on Saturday 11 October - but it was actually the start of an incredibly busy week. Not only did we have our own 'fab four' local authors in the shop (Alison Mercer, Tom Moorhouse, Neill Cameron and David Melling), we also hosted the book launch for 'The Word At War' on the Monday evening (with Peter Lewis and Philip Gooden), and then sold books at an event in Oxford for Google Chairman Eric Schmidt.

So we thought we would share the week in photos - and thanks to all of our authors who created such a buzz in our little shop over a busy few days!

We started the Saturday with our 'Live Window' and the following schedule...
...We had Prosecco ready, and Imogen baked this cake (featuring the first and last words of all four authors' books - how cool was that?)
Author Alison Mercer - author of 'After I Left You' and 'Stop The Clock' - was first up into the window... she got to cut the cake...
...and grab the first of our Tracey Emin bags as a big thank you!
Next it was the turn of Tom Moorhouse - author of 'The River Singers' and its brand new sequel 'The Rising' - to take the hot seat...
...and enthrall visitors young and old alike with videos of water voles that he helps conserve in Oxfordshire...
...Tom was able to stay whilst illustrator comic maker Neill Cameron got cracking on a truly awesome window illustration. He sketched an outline on the outside of the window... 

...and then got to work on the inside, breaking off periodically to sign copies of his books 'How To Make Awesome Comics' and 'Mo-Bot High'...
The shop was buzzing all day...
...Neill beavered away...
...whilst Tom looked on...

Tom was pretty chuffed to get a Tracey Emin bag...
...and then it was time for our final author David Melling to take his seat. Two incredibly talented illustrators in the shop at the same time!
...David spent the time in the 'live window' creating a 'Hugless Douglas' masterpiece for us...

Whilst Neill finished off the fabulous robot which is still adorning our window...

...which was beginning to attract a lot of interest!

David's finished work through the window..., buzz!
...and another bag from a grateful bookseller!

On Monday we welcomed Peter Lewis and Philip Gooden for the launch of 'The Word At War' a collection of anecdotes and stories to show how language evolved rapidly during the Second World War.
On an awful, rainy night a packed shop steamed quietly as Peter and Philip shared stories of spam, chads and kilroy...

It's a cracking little book - a fab gift for anyone interested in how language evolves - and we have copies signed by both authors in the shop.
On Wednesday we were invited to provide books for an event with former Google CEO and current chairman Eric Schmidt and his co-author Jonathan Rosenberg. 
Despite Oxford's traffic chaos delaying Eric's arrival, the debating chamber was packed to hear Eric discuss everything from Google Glass to being hacked by GCHQ.

We were able take along some young coders from John Mason and Thomas Reade Primary Schools who got to meet Eric. A great was to round off our 'Books Are My Bag' celebration of bookshops and their communities!

Thanks to everyone who came along and supported all our events!

Friday, October 17, 2014

In Conversation...An Evening with David Mitchell

Mark Thornton of Mostly Books will be interviewing comedian, actor, journalist and author David Mitchell about his new book “Thinking About It Only Makes It Worse: and Other Lessons from Modern Life” on Thursday, 13 November 2014, 7pm.

Please note: this event is now sold out but you can pre-order copies of David's book which he will sign on the evening.

David Mitchell is one of the UK’s best-known comedians. He’s also an actor and writer. A former pupil of Abingdon School, he came to prominence as one half of ‘Mitchell and Webb’ and has since won BAFTAs for ‘Peep Show’ and ‘That Mitchell and Webb Look’. He has also starred in ‘Jam and Jerusalem’, ‘The Bleak Old Shop of Stuff’ and ‘Ambassadors’. He writes for the Observer, chairs ‘The Unbelievable Truth’, is a team captain on ‘Would I Lie To You’? and has appeared regularly on almost all of our most popular panel shows, including ‘QI’, ‘Have I Got News For You’ and ‘Mock The Week’. In 2012 he published his memoir ‘Back Story’.

David will be in conversation about his latest book ‘Thinking About It Only Makes It Worse: And Other Lessons from Modern Life’, a collection of essays in which David considers the problems of everything from chocolate toothpaste to Ryanair, Poundland to ‘whether anything can be done about the Internet’. It’s funny, profound and provocative – and shot through with a surprising amount of common sense.

The event takes place at The Amey Theatre, Abingdon School, Oxfordshire OX14 1DE. David will be signing copies of his book immediately after the event.

Tickets are £12 and are available from Mostly Books. They can be reserved by calling the shop or emailing them on Seating is unreserved, and doors open at 6:15pm for refreshments.

You can also pre-purchase advance copies of the book at a special discounted pre-order price of £15 (RRP £18.99 hardback) when purchasing your ticket. All advance purchased books will be collected on the night, and David will sign following the event. Pre-ordered books can be signed by David prior to the event at your request.

(Books can also be purchased on the night for £1.99 off the retail price, or £17).

We have an allocation of tickets for Mostly Books customers that will sell out shortly, so please let us know as soon as you can if you would like tickets. All tickets will be sold in advance – not on the door – and all sales are non-refundable; no discounts or concessions on tickets.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Books Are My Bag Bookshop Party! with Alison Mercer, Tom Moorhouse, Neill Cameron and David Melling

We're having a party - and we'd love you to come.

On Saturday, 11 October we are delighted to be welcoming local authors Alison Mercer, Tom Moorhouse, Neill Cameron and David Melling.

Throughout the day, they will be sitting in a special 'live window', drawing, writing, creating something special - and of course meeting readers and signing books.

It's all happening as part of a national celebration of bookshops called ‘Books Are My Bag’. And we are challenging you to be creative too and become part of our live window throughout the day. We are challenging everyone to come in, sit down, and get creative too with our authors: write a short story or poem, draw a cartoon or picture.

Everyone entering the shop can take part - and you'll be given a sheet starting "Suddenly at Mostly Books...". What happens next is up to you!

And if that isn’t enough to tempt you, there will be champagne, cake, and a few other surprises as well. You'll also be able to get hold of a limited edition 'Book Are My Bag' bag designed by artist Tracey Emin, available exclusively at High Street Bookshops.

We are very lucky at Mostly Books to have so many supportive readers (and writers) who help us continue to thrive. But as the number of bookshops around the country dwindles, there is growing support for those of us who are still passionate about a place for books on the high street. 'Books Are My Bag' is an opportunity for people to celebrate what makes bookshops so special, as hubs of culture and community and a place where literacy can be fostered.

So what's happening on the day?

From 11am, Alison Mercer will be in the window, talking and signing books, creating a piece of writing, and on hand to answer questions about the path to becoming a published author.

Her latest book 'After I Left You' was launched at Mostly Books earlier this Summer - learn more about the author and the book here.

Then from midday, we have wonderful children's author (and ecologist) Tom Moorhouse, author of 'The River Singers' and its follow-up 'The Rising' (just out). This captivating tale of daring, loyalty and adventure involving water voles - based on the author's own conservation experiences - has already been hailed as a classic animal adventure, and Tom will be 'in the window' talking about his experiences, and showing videos of his work with water voles!

Then at 1.30pm we have the awesomely talented Neill Cameron in the window, showing you 'How To Make Awesome Comics'. A regular contributor to legendary comic The Phoenix, and author of YA graphic novel 'Mo-Bot High', Neill will be inspiring comic talent, and creating something special for the Mostly Books window! Everyone shout 'Aaaaiiieee!'...

Finally, at 2.30pm we welcome Abingdon's very own David Melling, creator of the bear that has taken the world by storm, 'Hugless Douglas' (don't believe us? just take a look at the different language versions below). David's going to be creating something extremely special in the window, answering questions about his illustrator life, and signing copies of his books.


Wherever you are in the country, if you are lucky enough to have a great bookshop nearby, we hope as many people as possible will take the opportunity go visit, meet an author, be inspired, and browse some of the brilliant new titles being published.
To find out more - go visit the Books Are My Bag website...