Saturday, July 09, 2016

Ten years of Mostly Books - a heartfelt thank you

Ten years ago - July 1 2006 - two nervous and extremely naive booksellers opened the door to their shop, and began a journey into the unknown. It was 9am, and already sultry on what would become a scorching hot day. The street was largely empty.


One of the booksellers had met Tim Waterstone at a book event a few weeks before and had asked him "If there was one piece of advice you would give to anyone opening a bookshop, what would it be?"

"Don't do it" he said.

After all, there was already trouble brewing on the High Street, Internet shopping and supermarket dominance was already well underway in transforming how we shop. But the future looked bright, the economy was healthy. The word 'Kindle' meant "to start a fire" and hardly anyone would have a clue if you mentioned 'subprime mortgage'.

What followed has been an incredible ten years - not easy, not smooth, but the most amazing adventure with many more highs than lows. We had plans to do a series of blogs on 'ten years in bookselling', or 'the best books of the last ten years'. That's for the next few months as we enjoy our tenth year. For now, we'd just like to say 'thank you'.

Thank you to everyone who has, over the years, helped this bookshop survive and thrive. We could not do what we do without you, but we feel incredibly blessed to have such a community of book lovers, engaged and passionate readers, and regulars who have come to be more friends than customers.

We believe bookselling is very different to almost every other form of retail. It is humbling what people share with you when they come into a bookshop: their hopes and fears, their frustrations and triumphs. We've met people who helped shape history but you wouldn't look twice if they passed you in the street. We've met a truly awesome array of inspirational authors. And there are the many hundreds of families who have given us a part of their children's future, allowing us to help them find books that they can grow with. There is no better feeling in the world than watching a small person grow in leaps in bounds - physically and intellectually - as literacy puts down deep roots and, month-by-month, you feel you have pressed fast-forward on a life blossoming in front of you.

Abingdon is an international town, a town with a long and proud history, a tradition of resilience, that sits at the heart of one of the most thriving and dynamic science communities in the world. We feel we have the most diverse customer mix anywhere, from Abingdonians who've lived here all their life, to others who choose to put down roots here from all over the world. Our country may feel like a more isolated place after recent events, but this can only be temporarily. The future belongs to people who know - and act on - a faith that more unites us than divides us. Those people tend to read books, and if a revolution is coming, we're betting it'll start in a bookshop.

Like most dynamic, outward looking towns, people do come and go. You hope it wasn't something you did or said (the deepest fear of the entrepreneur, which leaves you gasping in sweat-soaked panic at 4am). But the world of social media has allowed us to keep in touch with many ex-Abingdonians around the world.

Over the years, inevitably, often months after the event, you discover that a customer is no longer with us. It's can be heartbreaking, but it's a price you pay for sharing in a community. That is a price well worth paying.

We have so many special memories over the last ten years, it's impossible to pick just a few. But we've tried below. We'd love to hear yours.

We're holding a party tomorrow (Saturday July 2). We'd love you to come. There will be cake and champagne (the two essentials of a bookshop party). And will give us a chance to say thank you.

And if someone came up to us and asked me that question: "Would you open a bookshop?". We'd say "Are you crazy? Don't do it!". Because maybe, just maybe, if you ignore that piece of advice, you may have passed the first test in your steps to become a bookseller.


Thank you from all of us at Mostly Books.


Mark, Nicki, Karen, Julia, Imogen, Sara


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Some highlights from the last ten years:

2006: Our first ever children's event (Charlie and Lola) and breaking every health and safety rule going to pack 54 people in the shop for Sophie Grigson
Some highlights from the last ten years:

2007: Sam Jordison v Didcot, Pirates take over Mostly Books, The Glastonbury of Food, and the World's Greatest Portrait Artist

2008: Raymond Blanc and the four hour signing, Martin Clunes and a dog or two, Survival Training in the Garden and celebrating winning *that* award.

2009: Susan Hill in the Roysse Room, Alan Titchmarsh, Gryff Rhys JonesAlice in Wonderland and Monsters and Muchamore

2010: BBC Oxford Bookclub, rockstar authors at Carswell SchoolDinopants at Thomas Readethe best event we ever did, Barbara Trapido, Ben Macintyrethe birth of Hugless Douglas, and Chris Bradford on World Book Day.

2011: Five questions, Frank Cottrell Boyce before the Olympics, Kennington Lit Fest, Our first Oxfordshire Book Awards, Cathy Cassidy in Didcota masterclass in dealing with the undead, John Hegley, Sentimental Amateurs.

(And of course, Jeffery Deaver and the launch of 'Carte Blanche' at the Diamond Light Source!)


2012: Ben Goldacre at the Oxford Union, from Black to Green, Clarissa explains it all, the launch of a sparkling new talent, Ann Cleeves, Bethan Roberts, the Olympic Torch goes past our windowFrances Hardinge at St Nicolas School and The Unlikely event with Harold Fry

2013: HL Dennis at OLA, exploring strange new world, Old Bear, Salley Vickers, Nosy Crow takeover, Carnegie Forum, Hot Hugs

2014: Too many to pick - but this montage gives you an idea! David Mitchell, The Gruffalo and awards aplenty!

2015: Suzanne Barton, travelling to Pluto and Caroline Lawrence!

1 comment:

  1. Someone came into the shop today and pointed out that we'd forgotten to include Jeffery Deaver - how could we! An amazing experience - now updated :-)

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