Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Our friends on Twitter save the Day

This is a quick message.

On Saturday, a delivery that should have arrived at the bookshop didn't. It was supposed to be delivered by Yodel. This isn't the first time that this has happened and it seems that Yodel are not having a very good time of it at the moment. I guess their problem is that they are supposed to deliver parcels to people at agreed times and singularly fail to do so. Yeah, that's probably it.
There were a few customer orders in the box that never arrived and so we tried to get in touch with Yodel to ask where the box might be. We tracked it online, and apparently it was in a van, but somehow didn't quite make it to the shop.

On Monday, we kept a close eye on its' progress.
At 9.17am it was 'Out for delivery'. Excellent, we thought. It will arrive sometime soon.
When we looked again at about midday it stated that at 11.41am it had been 'unable to gain access' to our shop. Mmm, interesting. I don't remember closing the bookshop at 11.30-12.00 in the busiest retailing week of the year. Oh well.
Then, at 12.21 a new message came up. It had been delivered and had been signed for by somebody called Steve.
Who is Steve? We'd love to meet you and get our box of books. But that is unlikely to ever happen, as you don't actually exist.

So, this put us in a tricky position.

We checked through all the orders that hadn't arrived and re-ordered all the books that customers had asked for to arrive before Christmas.
Sadly there were two books that were no longer in stock at our suppliers.
This was bad. Very bad. We had promised these customers the books before Christmas and because of Yodel's shiteness, we were going to struggle to fulfill this.

So, this morning I sent out a message on Twitter.

' I need help to find 2 books for our customers that stupid Yodel have lost & are now out of stock at the publishers'

I am not going to name the books as the recipients of these may read this blog, but magic happened and we found both books and two of the people who follow our twitterfeed (and who we follow because they are superace) @lucebrett and @kaitharshayr helped us find, buy and deliver the books to the Big Green Bookshop.

This is a great example of how brilliant and thoughtful our customers (I think possibly a better word would be friends) are and also how rather wonderful a 'social networking site' can be.

Lovely friends. Lovely Twitter.


Monday, December 05, 2011

One of my Bookshelves

I've taken a photo of one of my bookshelves at home. I thought it might be fun to introduce you to it.  I look at my bookshelves all the time and i'd like to share with you how each book makes me feel. There is a conclusion to this blog, so you can skip to the bottom if you like, but if you don't mind reading how I feel about these books, i'd appreciate it. So let's start at on end (how about the left) and have a stroll along it. I've numbered the books (or series of books) 1-26. With a bit of luck you can click on the picture and it will get bigger. I don't know how these things work. Anyway, shall we set off?

1. Love and Summer by William Trevor.
    This was on the longlist of the Booker Prize in 2009. This was the first year we ran the Booker Book challenge in the shop, where we challenged our customers to read all 6 of the Booker longlist before the prize is announced. We met up on the night of the announcement and discussed each of the books and then decided who we thought would win. Then we watched the result and were delighted or appalled (depending on who we were). It's great fun. Anyway, when the longlist was announced, I thought i'd get a head start, and trying to be sneaky, I guessed which of the longlist would get into the shortlist. William Trevor was one of my guesses. I'd never read any of his stuff before and, although it took about 50 pages to get into, I absolutely loved it. Of course, it didn't make the shortlist and yet JM Coetzee did (!), however, if we hadn't done the Booker book challenge, I might never have read it. I love that this book reminds me of all this.

2. Noel Park. A History, by Caroline Wech
    Noel Park (it's a lovely little area in Wood Green) is where my girlfriend Katie and I bought our first flat. This booklet is something that every resident of Noel Park was given after Noel Park won a grant to put it together. I'm fascinated by the history of our area and this is a book I constantly go back to. Lovely

3. Box of Delights by John Masefield.
    I bloody love this book. This has the cover with Patrick Troughton (the second Doctor Who) on it, who played  Cole Hawlings in the BBC adaptaton of this brilliant Christmas story. Katie and I watch the DVD of this every year sometime in December (we also watch It's a Wonderful Life, Home Alone, Planes Trains and Automobiles and  National Lampoon's Christmas, but don't judge us) and i've read the book more times than I can remember. I can't wait for my daughter to be old enough, so I can read it to her.

I'm warming up now. There is a point to all this, so please persevere.
4.  Where Would I be Without You by Guillaume Musso.
      This book reminds me of a delicious meal I had in Old Brompton Road with the author and the publishers, Gallic Books. It also reminds me of our World Record Reading Group attempt we tried earlier this year. I have very happy memories of both these things. Guillaume is charming, the book is bonkers brilliant and looking at it always makes me smile inside.

5. The Rebel Bookseller.
      Whenever i'm feeling a bit down about work, I take this book off the shelf. I don't even need to read very much of it before I feel better again. It's about how a small Indie bookshop in the US survived and thrived in a very difficult market, by thinking outside the box, being massivley stubborn and hugely positive. It's ace.

6. Testament by Alis Hawkins
       Alis was among 8 authors who came and spent some time at the bookshop on it's opening day. She and I had chatted after she read about us on the blog and I heard that her first novel was coming out thought Macmillan new Writers. She doesn't live in London and made a special journey to the bookshop to be there for the opening. I bought this copy at her book launch in... ooh gosh, what's the name of that bookshop just off Charing Cross Road that sells lots of signed first editions and stuff? No, I can't remember. Anyway, it was lovely as was Alis.

7. Tescopoly by Andrew Simms
        Tesco. What a bag of poo they are. Avery large and dangerous bag of poo, but nonetheless, a bag of poo. This is my opinion, and also that of the author of this book. Clone town monstrosities, community destroyers, I feel a bit icky writing about them. I remember when I first moved to the Waterstone's in Wood Green (having just read this book), when it was still there, I ordered 50 copies of this and made it our Book of the Month. Yeah, I know, Waterstone's didn't do shop based books of the month. Ha ha ha. Anyway, the good news was that we sold all 50. As you can clearly see, this has brought Tescos to their knees.

8. Mark Leyner.
        The greatest contemporary writer I know. Not available in the UK, I import these and occasionally try to gently sell them to our customers. I realise he is not for everyone. For a start it is sometimes hard to find any narrative in his writing. It's like a rollercoaster ride of words and thoughts, but in my opinion Leyner pulls it off every time. He is totally incredible. I would never part with these books.

9. Crawlers by Sam Enthoven and Witchfinder by William Hussey.
     Two brilliant young adult books that I read within 3 days of each other. We hired a theatre and  put on a Horror Night in Stoke Newington last year and Sam and Bill were a big part of the show. William's book is staggeringly good. It's the start of a trilogy that has quality written all over it. It's bloody scary too.
I read Crawlers in one sitting and finished it at about 4.30am. That's how good it is.
I like that these two books sit next to each other.

Hey, are you still with me. Well done we're getting somewhere now.

10. Sound Bites by Alex Kapranos
       Katie and I went to the launch party of this. Alex is the lead singer of Franz Ferdinand and the launch party was in Wapping (I think). The party was brilliant. Free drink, great live music and lots of famous people. We got lost on the way. As the party drew to a close I told Alex that we were going to a pub down the road and asked if he'd like to join us. I drew him a map of how to get there and off I went. 20 minutes later he came through the door. The dozen of us who'd been at the party and had come to the pub had another great couple of hours of fun as Alex and his chums played pool chatted and were generally delightful. I will not forget this night.

11. Two books by the Publisher Gallic
    The Suicide Shop and Hector and his Search for Happiness.
When I look at these books I smile. Hector is an interesting book. A multimillion bestselling story about a psychiatrist who decides to travel the world looking for what it is that makes people happy. The Suicide Shop is about a guy who is born into a family who own a shop that sells stuff for people to kill themselves with. Poison, rope etc (use your imagnation). However he is far too positive and happy for this serious business of death and this threatens to ruin the whole thing.
I was introduced to the Suicide Shop by Scott Pack (a lovely chap) and from this introduction Big Green and Gallic have become very firm friends.

12. Company of Liars by Karen Maitland.
    Wow. This is another book that makes me very excited when I see it on the shelf. Penguin sent me this book a few years ago and said it would be worth a read. I read it. I LOVED IT. This is the first book we decided to make Big Green Bookshop Book of the Month. Historical fiction, brilliant pageturning fun. If you haven't read it, then you really ought to. Seriously. Karen is a superb author.

13.Threepenny Memoir by Carl Barat.
      One my loveliest moments in the bookshop. Who would have thought that we could get one of the biggest musicians of the time to play a set in the bookshop. But that is what happened. I'd seen the Libertines live (and also Carl's band Dirty Pretty Things) and when it was announced that Carl was bringing a book out I thought it was deffo worth asking if he's be up to play in the shop. Why not? I put together a pich and sent it off. The next day i heard back that Carl said he'd be happy to do a gig in the shop. And he did. This was within 3 weeks of The Libertines reuniting for the Reading Festival and it was amazing. Carl was superb and he stuck around for a couple of hours afterwards to chat and sign and generally be lovely. I was very happy that night as you can see by this photo.

14.Meat by Joseph D'Lacey
       This has a blank spine. But I know what it is. One of the best horror novels I have ever read. Incredible imagery, brilliant pacing and totally horrific. This was sent to me whilst we were trying to set up the Big Green Bookshop and it sat on my shelves for a long time until i got round to reading it. I'm so glad I did though. I got in touch with Joseph after i'd finished it and asked if he'd visit the bookshop if and when we actually opened it. He said yes and he was our first ever author to come and sign copies of his book in the shop. He turned up 2 weeks before we opened in a 'meat wagon', but it was such a lift for us and Jose is now a good frienof mine. Eco horror has never been so good, so read his books.

15. The Inner Game by Dominic Lawson.
    The story of Nigel Short's attempt to win the World Chess Championship by beating Garri Kasparov. OMG, this book is incredible. I remember watching the chess matches on the TV and being baffled but fascinated by the whole thing. I love chess, although i'm not great at it, and this book looked inside the story, at the incredible work that is put into playing a seemingly simple game of chess. It staggers me every time I read this book. Short got battered, but there were one or two games where he showed total brilliance and this is what chess is all about. Kasparov (a bit of a hero of mine) shows brilliance more than most and I often dip into this to remind myself just how good he is.

16. Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter.
      one of my top 5 books of all time. I wrote about it here. I love the cover too. her most complete novel. Amazeballs .

We're on the home stretch now. Not long to go.

17.  Dog Binary by Alex Macdonald.
    There's a story behind this book. I've written about it before, and Alex (the author) has no idea how highly I rate him, but this is a very very special publication. If you want to know more about it here's a link. The book is also lovely to stroke and its cover has pots of meat and urine on it. Top notch.

18. Tom Hodgkinson.
     Tom is one of the people who influenced me in deciding to open the Big Green Bookshop. 'How to be Free' is a book that ultimately encourages you to rid yourself of all the stuff that gets in the way of you living the life you want to live. WORK was one of those things. Work. A thing you do all your life to ensure that when you're old you don't have to. It's a weird idea isn't it? I prefer to do something I want to now. So let's open a bookshop! Hurrah.
    Tom's been to the bookshop a few times and it's always great to see him. We keep in touch, especially now that he has his own bookshop (copycat) and it's great to be able to offer what little advice we can to him.

19. The 30 Minute Cookbook by Nigel Slater.
     Nigel Slater is a shiny man who you want to hug and pat and stroke and say 'Thanks Nigel, you're lovely, and a real foody inspiration (but don't overdo it on the TV)'. He has produce some of the best cookbooks I have and 30 Minute Cookbook is one of the best. It is also THE FIRST BOOK WE EVER SOLD IN THE BIG GREEN BOOKSHOP'. A very special title indeed.

20. A Year in the Life of TheManWhoFellAsleep by Greg Stekelman
    I have written many things about Greg Stekelman. Here's a link to an interview I did with him. I love this book, I look at it all the time, I can open it at any page and it makes me smile. Greg is a very good friend of mine and I would feel odd not having this in my house.
 Oh yeah, buy his new book too. I publish it.

21. The Complete Novels of Geroge Orwell
    George bloody Orwell. If I see a copy of any of his books in charity shops I have to buy them. This man was a total genius. Years ahead of his time. He spoke to everyone and was unafraid to say things that weren't considered popular. Coming Up For Air, Keep The Aspidistra Flying, Animal Farm, 1984, this geezer knew how to write. I read an Orwell book once a year at least and this reminds me to do it. It looks down at me LIKE BIG BROTHER.

22. Memoirs of a Sword Swallower by Dan Mannix.
    Not in print any more, which is a real shame. It really is the memoir of a carny performer who slowly learns how swallow swords (as the title gives away) as well as flourescent tubes and worse. I read this for the first time when I was lying by a swimming pool in Italy and seeing this on the shelf not only reminds me of the dark and dirty world of freakshows, it also reminds me of this wonderful holiday I had. Aces.
23. Stuart Evers and ting.
    Stuart wrote a book which was published earlier this year. Ten Stories About Smoking was published by Picador and is a series of short stories where the general theme is loosely cigarettes. It is excellent and therefore sits proudly on my bookshelves. Actually it is more than excellent and his style has been compared to Raymond Carver and Raymond Chandler. I used to work with Stuart when we were booksellers in in Charing Cross Road. He introduced me to Hermann Hesse (not personally) and also was an excellent drinker. A fine combination.
  Before we opened the bookshop, after we'd finally got the keys to the shop, we asked if anyone could volunteer to help us with the decorating etc. Stuart was one of the first people to get in touch.
here is an example of this. The other book arrowed here is called Beginning In Bookselling, a book that Stu gave me on the day before we opened. Thanks Stuart.

Well done. 85% of the bookshelf done now.
24. Reach For The Ground by Jeffrey Bernard.
    Another one of my treasures. Bernard is a true antihero, who lived life to the full, usually at the expense of everybody else. But his charm (and talent) always seemed to get him through. A gloriously awful man to know I imagine, this book is a collection of his contributions in the Spectator magazine. I have his other collctions too, but this one is the one that, when I notice it on the shelf, I like to pick it off and dip into it. He is a true master.

25. The Fairy Tales of Hermann Hesse.
     If you go back to book 23 you will see that Stuart Evers introduced me to Hermann Hesse. This is the book that did it. Staggering. Only available from America (and the Big Green Bookshop), this is a superb collection of adult fairy tales, which have been lovingly translated by Jack Zipes (he knows everything you need to know about Fairy tales). It's a book that, if I didn't have on the shelf, I might never return to. But i'm so glad I do.

26. Legend of a Suicide by David Vann.
    A very special author. I got a postcard from him once from USA, thanking me for the stuff i'd written about this book. Joe Pickering, from the publishers (Penguin), sent me a copy of this and asked me to read it, cos he thought it was brilliant. I did, and it was.
David came to our shop last time he was in the UK and it really was an amazing evening. I struggle to think of an author so dedicated to his craft, but so generous and friendly.

So, we have reached the end of my shelf. I ask myself this question. Would my memories still be this strong if I saw this instead.


Books are more than just pieces of paper with words on them. They each tell a story that is more than the one that you read. I love looking at the books on my bookshelves and the way they each evoke special memories. I hope that there are enough people that feel the same way so that books will stick around for a long while yet.

Friday, December 02, 2011

3 for 2 on All our books. Oh No, Not Again.

I could tell you about KNITTING on Sunday, our CHRISTMAS CRAFT FAIR next Thursday or our COMEDY NIGHT next Friday. But you could look up this on the Website here
What we’re going to tell you about though, is this. 


As is traditional with these things, the cheapest item is free and we will PROBABLY have biscuits. This doesn’t include Book Tokens or Vouchers, but it does include pretty much everything else. The offer is just for books that we have in the shop on the day, so this is a brilliant chance for you to get ALL your Christmas shopping done in one massive go.  
You might want to have a look at our second hand books department while you’re here. We’ve expanded it and it now has its very own special corner in the bookshop.
My advice would also be to bring your own bag, as we are running low.

Look forward to seeing you tomorrow.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Christmas Card Competition. YOU DECIDE.

OK. We ran a Christmas Card Competition, where we asked children to design a christmas card for us. The winning six entries are going to be made into cards and sold at the Big Green Bookshop in packs. Also the six winners will each receive a £10 Big Green Bookshop Voucher to spend at the shop.
The overall winner will receive a £50 Big green Bookshop Voucher. Yes, it's crazy, I know.

We had lots of entries. Over 600.  

We want to say how brilliant the cards were and also a huge thankyou to everyone who entered, it was great fun looking at your cards. We will be displaying as many as we can at the bookshop over Christmas, so do come in and have a look at them.
But, we had to make a decision and, hard as it was we chose the 6 winners. But now what we want to do is to let YOU decide who will be the overall winner of the competition. The six winners are displayed here and at the top right of this blog there is a thing where you can vote for the card you think is the best. Please take a minute or so to do this and also if you can, please share this post with anyone else who might be interested.
Image 1. The Three Kings

Image 2. The Snowman

Image 3. The Penguin

Image 4. Santa in his Sleigh

Image 5. Mrs Santa (?)

Image 6. Child and Christmas Tree

Right, there are the 6 winning cards that we're going to make into real Christmas cards and sell at the bookshop. Congratulations to all 6 winners.
But now it's up to you to choose the overall winner, who'll get the £50 voucher.
Voting Closes at midday on Saturday 26th November, and the winner will be officially announced on Monday 28th.


Monday, October 31, 2011

World Book Night

World Book Night is happening again next year. Remember last year, when there was all that telly stuff and Traflagar Square and Margaret Atwood did a TV whatsit. It was nice. Well this time it's on April 23rd, a sensible distance away from World Book Day, which is on March 1st. (last year it was a little bit closer, and caused a bit of a kerfuffle). The 25 titles for World Book Night were announced earlier this week. Alison Flood did a piece about it here. I mention this article specifically, because I am quoted in it. Ha ha ha.

The article, among other things, questions whether giving away free books will hurt Independent Bookshops. On a personal level, it makes not the slightest difference to us whatsoever that these books are being given away for free. In reality, we are likely to sell between 2-5 each of these titles a year. In fact 10 of them we don't regularly keep (although all shops stock profiles are different), so in terms of black and white facts, it really isn't that big a deal.

'but if people are reading these books, that means they might not buy a book from you instead'.

Well that is possible, but it is also possible that if the organinsers of World Book Night get it right, it will raise the profile of books and how ace reading is, and then get more people into bookshops, libraries etc.
My concern is that last year, the organisers did NOT get it quite right.

The idea of World Book Night is a good one. Give lots of free books away to people who don't usually have access to books or to people who don't read. Good, I like it.

But how do you get the right books to the right people?

That's incredibly hard. But asking for volunteers take packs of 48 books and expecting them to do it is not, in my humbly bumbly opinion, the right way. These volunteers are wonderful people who want to get involved, but a lot of them are (I suspect) pretty well read. My concern is that the books will often be distributed to these well read group of people's well read group of friends. I know this is not true in lots of cases, but it was certainly true of a number of volunteers who picked up their books from our shop. I am not in any way blaming the volunteers, because all of them clearly wanted to spread the word about reading and gave up their own time to do this. All i'm saying is that I think the point is to give books to people who don't usually have access to books or to people who don't read and there is probably a better way of doing this.


World Book Day is good. Very good. The idea of World Book Day is to encourage children to explore the pleasures of books and reading by providing them with the opportunity to have a book of their own
There's more;
Thanks to the generosity of.....participating booksellers, school children are entitled to receive a World Book Day £1 Book Token. The Book Token can be exchanged for one of the six specially published World Book Day £1 Books or is redeemable against any book or audiobook of their choice at a participating bookshop or book club.

Ooh, now here's an idea. Instead of giving away one from a selection of 24 titles to random people, why don't we give certain people (people who don't usually have access to books or to people who don't read) a voucher up to the value of say £7.99 to buy a book of their choice from a selection of thousands and thousands of titles at any bookshop in the country.
Here are the plus points.
  • People get to choose a book they might actually read.
  • It will get people into bookshops.
  • It's more likely that the people who should benefit from World Book Night, do benefit from it.
  • More people will read books.
  • It is ace
  • There will be no need to print 1,000,000 extra books with special covers n' stuff because the books that people want will already be on the shelves. Hurrah.
There are negative points too, like not everybody will use the vouchers (did everyone read the free book they got given last year), and i'm sure that it will be impossible to target 100% accurately the poeple most in need of these vouchers. But I suspect that if a little research was done to work out those people most worthy of the vouchers (area's with lowest literacy, highest unemployment etc), then it would be totally brilliant.
The cost of the scheme could be shared by everyone (government, publishers, bookshops, BA and the like), and WBN is a charity too so that's good.
Well anyway, that's my idea.

Here's a picture of  a kitten with some cute ducklings

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

London Tales.

I met Greg Stekelman a few years ago. Probably just after Waterstone's in Wood Green closed down in 2007. I absolutely loved his book A Year in the Life of TheManWhoFellAsleep, and wanted to get in touch with the author to let him know. The book sadly went out of print, as the publishers went bust (this is becoming a theme of my blogposts). Rather than having his book pulped, Greg sensibly bought a few hundred copies from the administrators. You can read a longer version of this story, plus an interview I did with Greg in 2008 right here.
I was very proud that our bookshop was the only one that sold Greg's book, which we got directly from him, and it was probably the most consistently bestselling book we have stocked. Inevitably, Greg ran out of copies earlier this year, such was its popularity.
I had spoken to Greg last year about the idea of publishing a book with him. Initially the idea was to re-issue his original book with a few changes, but Greg was getting some really positive feedback from some of the illustrations that he had been doing and he persuaded me that a collection of these would actually be a much more exciting project. And London Tales was born.
We wanted the book to be something special. A lavish, beautifully produced collectors item, which complimented Greg's wonderful atmospheric drawings. Here are a couple of them to give you a taste of what I mean.

The book slowly took shape and sure enough a new London (fairy)Tale was written.
What Greg has done is incredible. The book contains the dreamlike quality of his first book, but what London Tales offers is a new perspective on London and the people who find themselves living here.

Such a special book needed to be presented in a special way, and as such there is a limited edition of  just 250 copies. Each will be signed by Greg, and the first 50 copies ordered will contain a personalised hand-drawn London Tales postcard. The book costs £40

Here is the final product. I hope you like it.
The book will be published on November 10th, but you are able to pre-order copies by going to the London Tales microsite here. Please take a look.

I shall share with you all the story of how Timeline Books, my new publishing company came about later, because right now, it's all about the book. As it should be.

Thank you for reading this.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Beautiful Books

A couple of weeks ago I read this on Beautiful Books website;

"Today, 11th October 2011, Beautiful Books entered administration. For information regarding the administration of the company, please contact Leonard Curtis...All the employees at Beautiful Books would like to thank everyone with whom we have worked over the past six years."

Now I really like Beautiful Books and this made me very sad indeed. They have published some of my favourite books of the last few years. Let me give you a couple of examples.

1. Meat by Joseph D'Lacey. Actually this is published by Bloody Books (the horror arm of Beautiful Books) and I have said lovely things about this book on the blog. I did an interview with Joseph here, and also Joseph was the first author to come and do a signing at the shop...two weeks before we even opened. Here's a link to that story. Beautiful books consequently went on to publish Garbage Man by Joseph and also the wonderful horror of Bill Hussey too. If you like eco-horror, or think you might, then Meat is the book for you. Or at least it was.

2. Dog Binary by Alex MacDonald. Alex is/was one of our customers and came into the shop one day asking if I wouldn't mind reading the first chapter of a book he'd been writing for the last seven years. He'd only showed one other person his book and I was totally blown away that he had asked for my opinion. That evening, I read the first chapter, and for the second time that day I was totally blown away. The incredible imagery and power behind Alex's writing was a real pleasure, and the next morning I called him and demanded that I see the rest of the book.
It was me who suggested to Alex that he should contact Simon Petherick, the MD of Beautiful Books to show him his novel. And I was so pleased when Simn showed the same enthusiasm as me for Alex's book. It would be a real shame if nobody picked up this little masterpiece and gave it a new home.

Not only did Beautiful Books publish some great stuff (other titles include Role Models by John Waters, The Glassblower of Murano by Marino Fiorato, 17 by Bill Drummond, The Wreckng Ball, The Sweet Smell of Decay by Paul Lawrence and The Secret Lives of People in Love by Simon Van Booy), they also were one of the most innovative publishers around. The way they marketed the books was refreshing and infectious, as was their enthusiasm for the books they sold. I was lucky enough to work with Beautiful Books on a number of occasions and each time I did it was a real treat.

There are probably lots of reasons why BB went into administration and i'm sure there are many unhappy people who are far more directly involved as a little bookshop in Wood Green. I hope all the legal issues are sorted out and a satisfactory conclusion is reached.
But I didn't want to let this news pass without sayng how sorry I am that it happened. That's all.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A special night to mark the publication of Haruki Murakami's 1Q84

Haruki Murakami is an international phenomenon. When Books One and Two of his latest masterpiece, 1Q84, were published in Japan, a million copies were sold in one month, and the critical acclaim that ensued was reported all over the globe. Readers were transfixed by the mesmerising story of Aomame and Tengo and the strange parallel universe they inhabit. Then, one year later, to the surprise and delight of his readers, Murakami published an unexpected Book Three, bringing the story to a close.

In order to reflect the experience of 1Q84’s first readers, Harvill Secker is publishing Books One and Two in one beautifully designed volume and Book Three in a separate edition. A long-awaited treat for his fans, 1Q84 is also a thrilling introduction to the unique world of Murakami’s imagination. This hypnotically addictive novel is a work of startling originality and, as the title suggests, a mind-bending ode to George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. (The number 9 in Japanese is pronounced like the letter ‘Q’).

Volumes 1 and 2, published in a single £20 volume, is strictly embargoed. It will only be available to buy from midnight on October 17/18, and so excited are we about its publication that we will be having a special night in the bookshop to celebrate, culminating in the book being available to take home at midnight.

The evening’s entertainment, which costs just £30 (the ticket price includes a copy of the book) will run as follows.

The doors will be open from 7.30pm. As you arrive there will be a selection of Japanese drinks and snacks to welcome you to the bookshop.
Then at 8.00pm there will be a delicious Japanese meal supplied by the amazing local catering company Hungry Wolf Ltd based Hornsey. The meal will include;
Futomaki  (thick sushi rolls).
Temaki (hand rolled sushi cones).
Miso Soup (a traditional Japanese soup, consisting of a stock called Dashi, in which is mixed Miso paste. Other ingredients change seasonally).
Gyoza (traditional meat or vegetable dumplings usually eaten with a dipping sauce).
Gobo Salad (Gobo is burdock in English, and as well as using the root of the burdock, this salad often includes carrots and sesame seeds).
Wakame Seaweed Salad (Wakame is a thin and stringy seaweed, deep green in color and used in making miso soup as well as this delicious salad).

Once the meal is finished, there will be a screening of the classic film Norwegian Wood, directed by Anh Hung Tran and based on Haruki Murakami’s most famous book.

At the conclusion of the night each guest will be given a copy of 1Q84 to take home.
We will have parking permits for non residents who want to drive to the bookshop on the evening. This will be included in the ticket price. 

A meal, drinks, a film and a copy of 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. All this for just £30.

Also, each guest will be entered into a raffle with a chance to win an extremely rare Proof Copy of 1Q84, which we have been lucky enough to get from the publishers.

Tickets for the evening are available on our website which you can get to by clicking this link.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Announcing our Children's Christmas Card Competition

With only 89 days until December 25th, we thought it was time that we launched our first ever Children's Christmas Card Competition.
Will you draw reindeers? It's entirely up to you.
This is the chance to have a Christmas Card designed by you on sale at the Big Green Bookshop. Not only that but one lucky person will win a £50 voucher to spend at the Big Green Bookshop.
It couldn't be easier.
Here are the rules.

 1. Take a piece of A4 paper and fold in half to make the template of your card
 2. Complete your Christmas card design, you can design all sides of your card but you must design at least the front.
 3. Post or deliver your finished design to the bookshop, all entries must be submitted before Saturday the 5th of November.
 4. All cards must also include your Name, Age and School (if applicable) Parents or guardians Email and contact telephone number.

Here is our address;
Big Green Bookshop
Unit 1, Brampton Park Road,
Wood Green,
N22 6BG

 There are 3 categories
 6 Years and under.
 7-11 years old.
 12-16 years.
 There will be 2 winners from each category, and one overall winner.

 The winners from each category will win a £10 voucher to spend at the Big Green Bookshop.
 The overall winner will receive a £50 voucher to spend at the Big Green Bookshop.
 There will no doubt be a photo opportunity with the Local Press too.

Could there be robins on your card? You decide.
 The six winning designs will then be made into cards and sold at the bookshop in December.
 Other designs that we like will be displayed in the bookshop over November and December.

 The judges decision is final.

 Have fun designing your cards and good luck.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Bah, Celebrity

Rumour has it that there's a TV programme on called Strictly Come Dancing which runs for months at a time, in which rugby players and weathermen and politicians dance with professional dancers for our entertainment. Some of these 'celebrities' become quite proficient at dancing, and eventually become so good that they could almost compete in non TV competitions. I suspect they don't though, as the money isn't as good.
Yesterday I read that Marian Keyes is to write a cookery book for Michael Joseph. Entitled title, Saved by Cake, to be released in February. 'It will give an account of her recent battle with depression and how baking helped her, including recipes aimed at baking novices.'

Earlier this year  Gwyneth Paltrow's Cookbook was published.
'The Academy-Award-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow is an icon of style and taste around the world. But for her, family comes above everything, and cooking and eating together are the key ingredients of a happy home.'

I think Marian is a very good writer. She's very funny and her books are a lot smarter than many others that hers are lumped together with and she obviously has a massive appeal. And Gwyneth is by all accounts an actress of some stature.

Call me a misery guts, but if I liked dancing, i'd rather watch two people at the very top of their game, rather than a clumsy rugby player. And if i wanted to get a cookery book, i'd probably get one that was written by someone who knew a little bit more than a keen amateur. Otherwise i'd write one myself.

Or am I missing the point. Is it all about greed or something?

I dunno. I blame Morecambe and Wise. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Hello Twitter. Thursday is #biggreenday

I am on Twitter (@biggreenbooks) Twitter is a social networking and microblogging site (that clears that up then). I tweet for the bookshop. Sometimes I tweet well, most of the time my tweets are pointless and some of the time I tweet badly. I don't really have quality control and don't get worried if people stop following me, which is a good job, because there can only be so many times that people can read 'I am in a train' or 'RAIN!!!' (my two most regular tweets), without wondering why they should have to put up with this.
I enjoy tweeting very much most of the time, although sometimes it all gets a little bit silly and angry. Then I close my eyes, wait for all the shouting to go away and then carry on.

The people that the bookshop follows fall into four main groups.

1. People in the booktrade.
2. Friends.
3. Locals.
4. People who I don't know but whose tweets I enjoy.

There is a crossover within these groups of course, but this probably covers 95% of the people the bookshop follows.
Twitter has been very good for the bookshop, introducing us to new customers, enabling us to contact authors and publishers to help arrange events and also helping to spread word of all the stuff that the Big Green Bookshop is doing. I hope, in turn, that the people who follow @biggreenbooks get some satisfaction from doing so.
I have been asked recently by more than 1 tweeter (3) if I would tweet a  typical day at the bookshop. People have different ideas about what it's like to work in a bookshop and also i've been told that it would be interesting to see the kind of books that we sold on a typical day.
So, I've decided that on Thursday September 22nd, I am going to livetweet a day at the bookshop. It will probably start and end with 'I am in a train' and there is more than likely going to be some 'RAIN!!!' in the middle, but hopefully it will be entertaining and sometimes informative. I will try not to tweet 'sold a book' or 'made a cup of coffee' too much, as that would be a bit boring (although, I do tweet these kind of things anyway). There will be no rules, but I will endeavour to tweet on a regular basis about what the heck is going on at the shop.
Hashtag fans (I am not a big one, but understand that sometimes they can be quite useful) will be delighted that I have chosen one especially for the day. It is #biggreenday.
At least 3 of you will enjoy this, i'm sure.
That's it really. If you fancy coming in so that you can be a part of this odd sort of experimental day, feel free. But don't bunk of school or take a sickie just to visit. That would be above and beyond all that's sane.


Monday, September 19, 2011

Booker Prize Challenge

The Man Booker Prize is probably regarded as the most prestigious literary award in the UK. It’s awarded each year for the best original full-length novel, written in the English language, by a citizen of the Commonwealth of Nations, Ireland, or Zimbabwe.On Tuesday September 6th the six shortlisted books were announced.

Here they are.

Here are the books, but this time from a different angle.

In one month's time, or thereabouts, the winner will be announced at a swanky do where everyone has to dress up, and it will also be televised to the watching millions (thousands) on BBC News24. For the third year we’re going to be hosting a Booker Prize Book Club which is open to everyone. This is how it’s going to work;
We challeng anyone to try and read all six of the shortlisted books in time for the night of the awards on October 18th. On the night we will meet in the shop at about 7pm to discuss each of the books. After a heated debate, and a glass or two of vino, each of the group will vote for the book they think should win. We’ll then watch the televised ceremony, and hopefully cheer as our choice and the actual winner is one and the same. Or more likely, shout and curse as our least favourite book takes the glory.

This year, the cost of the shortlist is in the region of £70 and we don’t expect you to pay this much for books that you might otherwise not buy. So we’ve come up with a few solutions;

•For a one off payment of £25, we will be a lending library, where you can borrow each of the books for  up a week each. You can also keep your favourite book after the ceremony.
•We will offer a discount of 20% on the shortlist.
•A group of you could share the cost, so for example 3 of you could buy 2 books each.

Of course you can get the books from anywhere you like. Hey, we can't and won't stop you.
But however you decide to do this, we will do everything we can to make the books accessible to you. The important thing is that you're able to join in.
It's a bit of a challenge, but if you think you're up for it, come along.

Here's another important bit. Even if you don't manage to read all six of the books (I haven't managed it myself in the last two years) you are more than welcome to come along and join in the debate on the book/books that you've read.
It's supposed to be fun remember.

Anyway, there you go.

Friday, September 09, 2011

3 for 2. They said it would never happen.

Well, after 10 long long years Waterstone's has announced it is going to stop doing the 3 for 2 offer. Flipin' eck.
We couldn't let this pass without marking this occasion in some way.

Now, what can we do?

I know. Let's have a 3 for 2 at the Big Green Bookshop.
Yes, on Saturday, September 10th, we will be having a 3 for 2 on ALL our books (and bookmarks and cards). As is traditional with these things, the cheapest item is free and we will have biscuits. And maybe cake.
I will not be stickering any books though, for that would be foolhardy.

This is likely to coincide with the glorious launch of our secondhand books department, if we can price them all in time. Three or four bookcases of lovely books a good proportion of  which were kindly donated by our customers, including 3 copies of Charlie Brooker's Screenburn and a lovely selection of old  Penguin Van Der Valk crime novels.

COME ALONG. It will be groovy. And there maybe cake.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Comedy Night Benefit Gig

Once a month we host a comedy night at the bookshop.
'A comedy night at the bookshop?', I hear you exclaim. '
Yes' I reply.
We started in March this year and if i'm honest, it's been rather flippin' successful. Brilliant comics have been doing some brilliant stuff, including Nick Sun, Lewis Schaffer, Dane Baptiste and Susan Murray.
The format is usually this:
Get to the bookshop at about 8pm
Turn up with booze.
Pay £3.
Sit down.
Listen and laugh to the lovely compere
Watch 3 different acts.
laugh a lot.
Compere returns.
Watch 3 more acts.
Laugh more.
(buy some books if you feel like it).
mingle a bit more, and either;
Go to the pub, or
Go home.

So that's the set up.
Well anyway, this month's Comedy Night was a Benefit Gig.
 Our compere, Chris Brosnahan..
This is Chris with a Light Sabre (of course)
..suggested to me that we could do a benefit gig for the residents and businesses affected by the riots in Tottenham. he's quite clever like that, and so we did.
And it was AMAZING!!!
We decided for this one off special gig, we should make tickets a fiver and also we made them available to pre-order.
The tickets sold out quickety quick quick, and we knew it was going to be a pretty full house.
And so the audience arrived.

The audience is ready (before the lights went down)
We manged to squeeze another 15-20 people in after this too, such was the popularity of the night.
The Comedians
(photos are courtesy of Daniel Dyer)
Dave Rego (pun filth)
Johnny Armstrong (pun filth plus insanity)

Robert Commiskey (US of Amazing. Look out for him btw)

Babatunde (who blew the audience away.I've had emails since telling me how much people enjoyed his stuff)

Peter Dillon Trenchard. Geek genius. (I thought he was super ace and he wore a Tom Baker T-shirt!) 

And our Headliner
Sir Ian Bowler MP (aka Natt Tapley), who "finished the evening off" in style.

It really was a special night and we want to say thanks to everyone who helped out, and donated money.
The total that you lot gave was
Thank you
This will make things a bit easier for the homeless and busniessless people of Tottenham, so thanks.

Hope to see you at the next Comedy Night on September 16th. x

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Question.

Hello online world. Can you help. I hope you can.
We like the shop to have lots of people in it. Not necessarily people buying books (although this clearly helps us to remain open), but people using the shop as a venue for activities and clubs.
At the moment we have 4 reading groups, a writers group, a monthly boardgames club, a monthly knitting club. We turn the shop into a market once a month on a Sunday, where people sell their locally produced goods (it's happening this Sunday from 10am to midday). We do storytelling on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings at 11am.
Most of these things happen during the day, while the shop is still open.
And we'd like to do more of them.
Can any of you lot think of regular events/clubs/meet-ups that we can hold in the bookshop during the day. For example, chess club, flower arranging, art class etc. Things that we can do that won't get in the way of customers coming in (should that happen).
Please have a think and let us know.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wood Green. Normal service will resume shortly.

It's been a while (10 days) since the looting in Wood Green, and in most cases things have got back to normal. Nearly all the shops that were smashed up and robbed are back open again and people are beginning to talk about other things, like the weather and Bristol City's terrible start to the football season (that might just be me).
There are a number of things that I think are worth mentioning though, in relation to the trouble.

1. This amazing post-it note board that appeared on the boarded up door of Body Shop
Inspired by a similar board in Peckham, this appeared last Tuesday/Wednesday and was soon full of (mainly ) positive messages.  

I really hope that the board is saved and put up as a display somewhere like the Civic Centre, the Council Buildings or the Library, or even in the shopping centre, to serve as a reminder of the feelings of the vast majority people in Wood Green.

2. The Tottenham Fund. A fund was set up to help thise residents and business affected by the looting and rioting in Tottenham. Within only a few days  £16,000 was raised. I'm absolutely sure that as more people hear about this fund the figure will get higher and higher.

3. The Help Centres. Immediately after the rioting, a number of help centres opened around Haringey. Clothes, toys, food, bedding etc were needed by those who were made homeless by the criminal behaviour and once again the people delivered. Within a day or two the centres were chocabloc with clothes and were almost at a stage where they were having to turn stuff away.
4. Andrew Thornton ( I like Andrew Thornton) who owns Budgen's in Crouch End deserves a special mention. There are lots of people doing things to help, but Andrew seems to me, like the kind of person that Haringey needs. Not only does he consistently come up with community minded projects, like the Food From the Sky, but he 'gets' Haringey. There is a huge East/West divide in the borough and Andrew has called a meeting (everyone is invited) to discuss ways of addressing this. Here are the details.

5. Entitled 'I Love Wood Green'  This blogpost made me smile

There are hundreds more examples of the wonderful acts of kindness and community spirit that have been shown by the people of Haringey. Whilst politicians and so called experts shake their heads and wag their fingers and tell us what the problems are and what they are going to do about it, our borough has actually pulled together and is doing what NEEDS to be done.
Perhaps rather than offering an opinion, these experts and politicians could offer something a little more practical.
I love Wood Green, and these last two weeks have emphasised why I feel this way.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Committee Meeting

An advert we put on our website and on Facebook a couple of weeks ago;

"There's no point in us doing things at the shop if nobody turns up, so in order for the shop to be and do what you want it to, we're setting up regular meetings at the bookshop in which we ask for your opinions on different aspects of the bookshop. They won't last more than an hour and we'd love to see lots of you here.
This month we'll be talking about how the shop looks and what we can do to improve it, and also the kind of events and authors you'd like to see in the bookshop. If you have time, please have a think about this, and even if you can't make it to the bookshop, please email us with your suggestions.

The date we arranged this meeting was the Sunday just gone at 11.00am. In hindsight, this wasn't the best day to choose, but how were we to know that Wood Green was going to get trashed a few hours before this.

Anyway we shouldn't have worried as a good crowd turned up to offer opinions and ideas.
Here are some of the things that we learned (learnt?)
  • We should keep doing lots of events
  • We should advertise more in the shop beforehand (most of our advertising is online or in local papers).
  • We should do more themed events with more than one author.
  • The new format of our newsletter is clearer (we only highlight stuff that's happening in the next week, and point readers to our website to see what else is happening)
  • Our windows are rubbish (we knew this). Solutions were offered (by solutions, I don't mean soapy water).
There were other things we discussed that are very secret and exciting, which I hope we can introduce in the next month or so.

The best thing to come out of this meeting was that it's focussed us on the areas we need to concentrate on. We do have a habit of procrastinating and also we have so many things we want to do that we sometimes miss the most obvious.
It's always useful to get feedback (constructive please) from our customers and we're really going to benefit from these meetings.

So far we've cleared the front of our till area and painted it with blackboard paint. This will be a rolling information point for all that's going on in the bookshop.
We've also decided it's time to clear the crappy area to the left of the bookshop, that's used as a car park/toilet/rubbish tip. We're going to have a big clear up day on Saturday August 20th, with a view to fencing it off and making it into a garden/reading area. Oh, it'll be gorgeous. You mark my words.
Hopefully it'll be clear enough and clean enough to be able to put some stalls out there on the Sunday, when we have our next local market (check the website for details).

Keep the suggestions coming in for the first book you'd order if you owned a bookshop.

The other thing we'd like to mention is that our comedy night next Friday August 19th will be a Benefit Gig with all proceeds going to the Tottenham Fund helping those local residents and businesses affected by the riots and looting.
There's a Facebook group here with info or you can look on the events page of our website for more information (scroll down a bit).
Tickets are selling fast, so if you want to come, you'd better be quick.
 Headlining the gig is Natt Tapley, who'll be playing his alter ego Sir Ian Bowler MP.
It will be rather good.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

If You Had A Bookshop, What's the First Book You'd Order for the Bookshelves?

On Saturday I asked this question on Twitter (we have a twitter accout @biggreenbooks)
"if you owned a bookshop, what's the first book you would order for the shelves"

I asked this because, being a small bookshop we rarely stock more than 1 or 2 copies of any one title, so we often sell out of things, and it's cringworthy when someone comes in and asks if we have (for example) Animal Farm having sold it earlier in the day, and we have to say we've sold out.

The response was brilliant and very interesting (I think so anyway), so I thought I would share it with you.

I've marked all the kids books in red (because I felt like it)

1984 (four times)
When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr
Little Prince by Saint Exupery
Crime and Punishment (twice)
All the Discworld Novels
Room on a Broom by Julia Donaldson
Queen's Gambit by Walter Tevis
Metamorphosis by kafka
The Non-League Football Directory (chosen by Enfield Town FC)
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Love Monkey by Edward Monkton
To Kill a Mockingbird (twice)
Vampire L'Estat by Anne Rice
The novels of Rex Stout
Count of Monte Cristo
Complete Oscar Wilde
Dharma Bums by Kerouac (twice)
My Cat Like to Hide in Boxes (twice)
Nausea by Jean Paul Sartre
Peggy Larkins Way by Trevor Forest (chosen by Trevor Forest)
The Complete Saki
Mortdeai Trilogy by Bonfiglioli
Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diaries
The Blacker the Berry by Wallace Thurman
Complete Sherlock Holmes
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John Le Carre
Carter Beats the Devil
Winnie the Pooh
Beyond Good and Evil by Nietzsche
The Shopgirl by Steve Martin
Like water for Chocolate by Esquivel
Good Omens by Terry pratchett and Neil Gaiman
Faust by Goethe
The Harry Potter novels (twice)
Cyteen by CJ Cherryh
Alice in Wonderland
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric carle (Four times)
Post Office by Charles Bukowski
Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Hienlein
The BFG by Roald Dahl
Catch 22 by Joseph Heller (twice)
Ulysses by james Joyce
Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Euginides
Pride and Prejudice
Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkein
Ballad of the Sad Cafe by Carson McCullers
Time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor
Wind Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers
Timbuktu by Paul Auster
Girlfriend In a Coma by Douglas Coupland (twice)
Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy (twice)
Persuasion by Jane Austen
Bend Sinister by Nabokov
The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Chabon
Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst
Electric Kool Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe
Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving (twice)
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (twice)
The Gun Seller by Hugh Laurie
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
Perdido Street Station by China Mieville
Wuthering Heights
Cement Garden by Ian mcEwan
Atonement by Ian mcEwan
The Bible
The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist by Tressell
Yes Man by Danny Wallace
All the Tea in China by Bonfiglioni
Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene
Birdsong by Faulks
Memoirs of a Sword Swallower by Dan Mannix
Master and Margerita by Bulgakov
As I walked Out One Midsummer Morning by Laurie Lee
Couples by John Updike
Jane Eyre (twice)
Archy and Mehitbel series
Mt Vertigo by Paul Auster
Catcher in the Rye by J D Sallinger
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
The Arrival by Shaun Tan
The Art of Looking Sideways by Alan Fletcher
Touching the Void by Joe Simpson
The Haunted Bookshop by Morley
Perfume by Suskind
The Book Thief by Zusak
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith (twice)
Captain Corelli's Mandolin
The Thomas Covenant Chronicles
The Phantom Tollbooth
Little, Big by Crowley
Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie
Vintner's Luck by Elizabeth Knox
I, Claudius by Robert Graves
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Carbonel by Barbara Sleigh
Witch's Gold by M Elliot
Bridget Jones Diary
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Ash by mary Gentle
The Magus by John Fowles
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
Tomorrow Insha' Allah by Tina Johnston (chosen by their publisher)
Parnassus on Wheels by Christopher Morley
New York Trilogy by Paul Auster
Thousand Splendid Suns by Hosseni
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
The Complete Works of Shakespeare
Hamlet 'if I had to choose one' (twice)
Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk
His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
Howl's Moving Castle by D Wynne Jones
Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton
Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien
Great Gatsby
Tom Jones by Fielding
Harriet the Spy by Fitzhugh
Reclaim the State by Hilary Wainwright
Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl
Can't Wait to get to Heaven by Fannie Flagg
Effi Briest by Theodor Fontane
War and Peace
Anna Karenina
Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
All A S Byatt's Short Stories
The Guttenburg Bible ( mmm..   )
House on the Strand by Daphne Du Maurier
Small is Beautiful by Schumacher
Clockwork Orange
In The Cut by Daniel Blythe
Tommy's Tale by Alan Cummings
Idiot by Dostoyevsky
Vodka by Boris Starling
Awaydays by Kevin Sampson
Jennie by Paul Gallico
History of Mr Polly by HG Wells
Violins of St Jacques by Patrick Leigh Fermor
Eating Animals by Jonathan Saffron Foer
Crow Road by Iain Banks
Secret History by Donna Tartt
A good dictionary
The Ancient Future by Traci Harding
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Alexandrian Quartet by Durrell
Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury

This is an ever growing list and i'll add to it as and when more suggestions are given to me. Perhaps this will become a perfect list of books for anyone thinking of opening a bookshop. Perhaps, however, this would be a total disaster and you should completely ignore it. There are a few titles on the list we don't stock and have since ordered, so I'd appreciate any further suggestions.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Wood Green 2 Days Later.

As London and some of the big cities around the UK get pounded by rioters, I thought it would be useful to update you on what's happening in Wood Green.
The shops that got clobbered on Sunday morning are mostly open again now. However some of the worst affected, like HMV are 'closed until further notice' according to the signs.
HMV on Sunday and again this morning

The Body Shop spent all of yesterday cleaning up and doesn't look like it'll be open for a few days.
Body Shop on Sunday and again this morning

Last night there were a few idiots causing mischief on the High Road. It seems that this time they were more intent on smashing things rather than nicking stuff. Stones were thrown from the balconies in Sky City (a block of flats above the shopping centre) and windows of the shops below were smashed. I remember a few years ago having eggs thrown at me from here. That was funny. This is not.
Shocked? I'm appalled.
We have opened as normal. We held our Knitting Group on Sunday and we did our songs and stroytelling to under 5's on Monday morning. We're trying not ot let the situation affect us, but you cannot help but notice the strange atmosphere. Rumours flew around all day yesterday. According to various sources throughout the day I heard rumours that gangs were heading to Wood Green on about eight different occasions. Thankfully none of these rumours were true but at 4.00pm (after the trouble started in Mare Street in Hackney), a number of the shops on the High Street suddenly closed. The owner of the cafe next door to us came in and told us that he'd had a call from his friend up the road in Palmer's Green say there was trouble on the way and that he was closing. Then a rumour that trouble was brewing in Green Lanes just south of Wood Green. I then got a phone call from a friend in the Council telling me that all the shops on the High Road were being closed, although the police were stressing there was no trouble.
When we got a call from my daughter's nursery up the road, telling us that they were closing early and I should come and pick her up, we decided it was time to close.
All these rumours make it very difficult to carry on like normal and, as a precaution, we have cancelled our Book Group discussion tonight. Having 15-20 of our customers leaving the bookshop after dark while there's so much tension in the air seems like an unneccessary risk. We hope this is the only thing we'll have to cancel as the events and groups define the bookshop (in normal circumstances this would be the time where I link you all to the events page on our website).

I suspect this atmosphere will remain for a while, but it's a testament to the communities that have been affected that they have all rallied round to help clean up the areas affected. If you're on twitter, please check out @riotcleanup as they seem to be coordinating things very well.

Thanks for your messages of support They really do mean a lot.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

North London Looting

I was going to write a lovely blogpost about figuring out what book you would hate to not have in stock if you owned a bookshop, but sadly things have turned rather ugly and horrible here in North London. Tottenham has taken the brunt of the rioting and looting and setting fire to anything that it is possible to set fire to, however at about 2am this morning things started happening in Wood Green.
People turned up, having realised that all the police were trying to control the stuff going on in Tottenham, and started smashing Wood Green to pieces.
Burnt out car on Wood Green High Road
The Body Shop. Where looters can stock up on their Jojoba.

These are two photos I took this morning as I came to work. They are both less than 200 yards from the bookshop.

We are not at all happy about this. The people who did this are not representative of how Wood Green (and Tottenham) feel. The people who did this, for example, to HMV...

are fucking idiots. They have used a controversial and tragic incident and turned it into an excuse to steal things and smash things and ruin things. They have no interest in anything other than what they can gain from this situation and I am furious.
I had a text message at 5.30am from one of our most wonderful and precious customers. She lives above a shop on the High Road (where these photos were taken). She texted me to tell me about how horrible things were and to give me a warning in case I didn't know. Now here's the thing. She is pregnant, and was due to give birth yesterday. The High Road has been cordoned off. All the police and ambulances are in Tottenham. Not a good situation when the looting and rioting in Wood Green has been going on for 2-3 hours without any police intervention (they are all still in Tottenham) and the likelihood of a taxi to take you to a hospital is zero.
This is just one example of the short sighted, ignorant, self indulgent and greedy nature of the actions in Wood Green and Tottenham. There are many many more.
Here are a couple more photos.
This is an independent clothes store, ransacked and destroyed. Insurance will not cover the damage caused.
The Carphone Warehouse

Many more shops got trashed on the High Road. Specsavers, Boots, H & M, Holland & Barratt, The O2 shop, and more.
Sometimes, when there is a protest about something and violence occurs in the back of your head you think 'I do not agree with this at all, but actually I can understand why they are angry'. This piss poor excuse for violence and mayhem has caused nothing but anger in Wood Green. Everyone I have spoken too is ashamed and angry that this has happened.
This is not representative of Wood Green. This little place in North London is a diamond and we will not let this terrible night of violence ruin things.

I don't have any solutions but I know that there are so many passionate and community minded people in N22. And we need to make sure that we remain proud and supportive of the area.
On Friday I was at a nursery just up the road, where my daughter goes. They were having a 'carnival' and there was music and dancing and lots of food and drink, and it was a wonderful atmosphere, where you realised what a wonderful community there was. This is how is still see Wood Green and i'm sure that in the next few days Wood Green will show how resilient it is to this dreadful series of events.