Monday, January 30, 2012

Our Facebook Group

Are you on Facebook?

Oh, OK. But if you are, please join our Facebook Group.

But I already have.

Well, possibly, but when I checked Facebook this morning there were only 5 members in the Group. That's 803 less than there was yesterday.

NO !
So, if you want to join the group again, or if you want to join it for the first time and experience all the joy it entails, please click on this link and request to join. Oh, that's right. The other thing that's happened is that despite me making it an 'OPEN' Group, Facebook still requires me to accept you as a Group member.

Tsk, I don't media websites today.....

Thursday, January 26, 2012

2012. The Year of 100 Events (well 402 actually)

Oi. Hello.
That thing we posted last Friday about the ...ometer. Yes, that picture (it was a shoddy picture, I know) of a thermometer type thing.
Well, here's what the ....ometer is going to count..
We are going to try to put on 100 events this year.. 100. ONE HUNDRED.
Now look, this does not include our regular meet ups.
So it doesn't include;

Our stories and song for the under 5's every Monday, Wednesday and Friday (156 times a year)
Our Writers Group who meet every fortnight (26 times)
The Local Market which we hold on the third Sunday of each month (12 times).
Our knitting club that meets on the first Sunday of each month (12 times)
Our boardgames club that meet on the last Sunday of each month (12 times a year).
Our Book Group that meets on the second Tuesday of each month (12 times)
Our Kids book group that meets on the third Saturday of each month (12 times a year).
Our new Photography club that is meeting once a month too (12 times a year).
The Working Title Comedy Club, our monthly comedy night, 3rd Friday of each month (12 times)
Our once monthly Poetry Night. (12 times a month).
Our Monthly Quiz (12 times a year).
The Graphic Novel Book Group, first Thursday of month (12 times a year).

No, not those. Not those 302 events.

What we're talking about is the author events, the outside the shop stuff, the launches, the school studge. All that stuff.
The reason we're doing this is because we'd like to keep a record of what we've done. We love doing events and reckon this is a great way to keep track of what's been going on this year. The blog is good for this, as is Facebook, but it'd great for us (and you guys, I hope) to have some idea of what kind of events we do throughout the year.
We've done 5 so far (I think) which we'll fill in shortly.

We're hanging it up in the shop next week, and will keep updating it throughout the year.
This DOES NOT mean that the quality of our events programme will be in any way affected. We will continue to put on a varied and hopefully interesting selection of events which we hope will appeal to you (our customers). We'll just do more of them.
As always, we really do appreciate your feedback, so if you have any ideas or suggestions for things we could put on in the bookshop (or anywhere else for that matter), please please let us know.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Guess What This Is.

This is a photograph of a thing we have made in the shop. It is about 4 foot tall and is at the moment, blank. 
but what the hecking flip is it?

Yes, it's an 'ometer of some sort, but what sort? There will be a rather lovely book related prize for the best  (not necessarily the correct) guess. We'll finish it over the weekend and announce what it is on Monday or Tuesday next week.  
That's all.

Monday, January 16, 2012

London Tales. An update & some thoughts

Two months ago, I published a book. It was called London Tales and the author/illustrator of the book was Greg Stekelman. Here is a link to a blog post I wrote about it.

And this is the book itself. Mmm, isn't it gorgeous?

Being in the book trade since 1984, you would have thought that the world of publishing would be something that I knew all about. However, much like the journey from bookseller to bookshop owner, it was a magical mystery tour. From sorting out contracts with authors/printers to the more technical side of things. I now know what Wibalin fine linen 570 is, I never thought I'd ever say that. Greg was incredibly supportive too and took up pretty much all of the workload when it came to formatting the book itself. The book was checked over 2 or 3 times by the most diligent of editors (who volunteered their time to do this). I also had some amazing help from Ali at Gallic Books (an excellent publishers if I may say so), whose advice throughout the whole process was vital. The finished product is truly a thing of beauty and I am very grateful for all the help I had and also very very proud of the book.
It's sold really well and of the Limited Edition of 250 that we printed, there are now less than 50 left. If you want one (of course you want one), here is a link.

This has also led to some other interesting opportunities. I was interviewed last week by a researcher at the Independent, who was running a story of bookshops who also publish books. I'm keeping an eye out for that in the near future I hope.

I've also been asked to talk at the London Book Fair this year about my experiences with this project.

So, as the new year slowly trudges it's way into view, I am beginning to tease with the idea of the next book to publish. I've sent out one or two feelers to people who I'd love to work with. The limited edition format that London Tales is published in seems to be the most effective and manageable way for me to work and I think this is the way I'd like to continue.

If you have any advice, suggestions, thoughts or money, please feel free to share them.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Kids Book Group

One Saturday a month, we hold a Childrens Book Group. It's open to anyone who loves books and also loves talking about books. It's quite a new group, and so far books we've read have included Artemis Fowl, The Knife of Never Letting Go & Katherine Langrish's Troll Trilogy.
This month we are discussing is A Boy Called Mouse by Penny Dolan.
Here are the thoughts;

  • we liked the short chapters
  • it started slowly but really built into a great story.
  • we like the different points of view (each chapter is told by a different person)
  • we like the chocolate flapjacks.

Look, here they are.
Yes, there are snacks too. The next meeting will be on Saturday February 25th at 10.30am and we will be discussing Skellig by David Almond. Please feel free to come along and join the discussion. It is ace.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Bookshop in a Bookshop

Tonight we are selling books at the launch party of Jubilee, a new novel by Shelley Harris. We do lots of launch parties, but you may be interested to learn that this one is being held at the Champagne Bar at Waterstone'''s in Piccadilly.

 Look, here is Tim (he has a very impressive beard, doesn't he?), with Shelley (on the right) and Kirsty Dunseath, the editor of Shelley's book. 

It's all a bit odd, selling books in another bookshop, but a combination of factors, the most important one being Shelley wanting us to do it, means that here we are. We really appreciate this kind of support and we will hopefully sell loads of copies of her book and help to make it a memorable night for her. Because that's what launch parties are all about. The author. In many cases, it is years and years of hard work, finally acknowledged by an agent and then a publisher, who backs up your talent by publishing your book. A book launch is like a christening, where the parent (author) invites all their friends to celebrate the birth of their book.
Thankfully, we didn't need to build a trojan horse to penetrate the walls of Waterstone'''s in Piccadilly and they have been most accommodating.
We've done lots of launches and events away from glorious Wood Green. On a boat, in a synagogue, in a park, in a theatre. Have books, will travel. So if you're looking for a roving bookshop to help you make your book dreams come true, you know where to come.  


Look what I found hiding on our window earlier this morning.
It obviously saw the 'S' and thought that if it snuggled up behind it nobody would notice. We feel a bit sorry for the apostrophe, so we're going to look after it for a while. If anyone's missing one, please get in touch.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Bookselling stuff.

It's always a bit strange in the bookshop in January. After the buzz of Christmas, where you're sometimes so busy you don't get time to think about stuff, the New Year offers a slightly different challenge.
In most cases in the shop, the stuff we buy in December has to be paid for by the end of January. Obviously we buy a lot in December, both to fill the shelves with joy and wonder for our customers, but also to get in the books that we don't have that our customers ask for. Most of those we can get with 1-2 days.
So at the end of December our bills are big. Ideally, we'd like to minimise these bills, so it is traditional that January is a good month to do returns. Returning books that haven't sold, is something I don't enjoy doing. It is, in a sense, an admission that the books that you chose to sell in the shop were the wrong ones. Obviously you can't get it right all the time, but it still makes me sad. I think that we had a pretty good range of titles this year & were able to pick up on titles that we'd originally missed very quickly. Probably better than the last couple of years, if i'm honest. However, we still have lots of books to send back, so for the next week or two we'll be clearing the shelves of slow selling titles.
January is also the month, where for no other reason than the fact that it is a new year, people traditionally make resolutions. We do this for the shop too. One of these is that I will do more blogposts. Sadly for you, this means that there may be lots of dull posts like this one. But you never know, I might occasionally do something relatively interesting. Who knows.
I plan on doing book reviews, getting guest bloggers, talking about the everyday business of running the bookshop and also announcing new stuff that we have planned. But what else do you want to see on here?
If there's something about books or small businesses or the local community that you'd like to see more of, let us know.

Monday, January 02, 2012

2011. It happened.

It is hard to sum up how incredible 2011 has been for us. But I am going to try. Many things happened and I can't list them all (I could, but it would take a very long time and I need to sleep), but I hope this gives you some idea of why we love what we do.
Let's go.....
    This time last year, we realised that we were in a little bit of trouble. Financially. We decided that the best way to try and deal with this was to let people know. We had a solution to the problem and just needed a bit of help to get us through the tricky situation we found ourselves in. So we wrote this  'Please Help' message, and posted it on the blog, Facebook, Twitter and we sent it to all the people on our mailing list. The response was staggering. Withing 24 hours we were inundated with incredible offers of help, donations and the sales in the shop increased sixfold. This continued for weeks, and raised the profile of the shop like nothing before. It also got us out of our immediate financial difficulty. The goodwill and warmth that the bookshop was shown still brings a tear to my eye.
Remember the Strugglometer?
We started a monthly Comedy Night this year in the bookshop. I think it was February that the first one happened and it has grown and grown since then. It is awesome, and this is mainly down to Chris and Ben, two of our friends who have taken it upon themselves to organise it all for us. This is such a great thing to be happening in Wood Green and we are now regulalrly getting standing room only audiences, such is the talent of the acts who perform here. (next night is on Friday January 20th at 8pm)

We also started a Monthly Poetry Night which with the help of Eliza will hopefully be as big as the comedy night soon.

In July, I cycled 120 miles overnight, from Hackney to Dunwich on the Suffolk coast. I wasn't by myself, or else I would have got lost many many times. Luckily there were about 1,500 other cyclists who turned up too. It is a thing called the Dunwich Dynamo and here is why I did it. It was amazing and I loved it. It is a truly incredible feeling cycling down a hill in pitch blackness following  the red back light of a bicycle 50 metres ahead of you. It is also a truly incredible feeling watching the Sun come up after cycling 100 miles. I would recommend it (if you like cycling a lot).
This is me and my magnificent bicycle after 120 miles. Seconds after this photo was taken I was asleep.

August will be remembered for the riots, which started on Saturday August 6th in Tottenham. During that night of trouble, loads of people turned up in Wood Green, having realised that the police were busy a couple of miles up the road. For 5 hours they looted and smashed shop after shop. The following day I wrote this post . I was angry and upset, as were many other people, but trying to find a positive, one of the things that came about from what happened in Wood Green and Tottenham (and i'm sure in many other areas affected), was how strong the community was. The support that those affected were shown afterwards by the local people was phenomenal. People gave their time and money to help those who'd become homeless or had lost their businesses and for the weeks afterwards there was a kind of steely determination not to let this dreadful series of events damage the area permanently. As I said then, I am in no position to offer solutions, but there is a strong core of people in Haringey who, given the chance, can make a real difference. Let's hope they are one day soon.

Glamorous musical visitors this year included Pauline Black from the brilliant 2Tone 80's band The Selecter, Hugh Cornwell lead singer of the legendary punk band The Stranglers, and the superb Jimbob from Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine, who played a brilliant acoustic set in the shop. We also had a visit from (sweary) darts legend, the King of Bling, Bobby George.

    Bobby George. I hugged him. This is what he looked like afterwards (sorry Bobby).
     We have had more than 100 authors an speakers visiting this year, which is rather an achievement.We love putting on events in the shop and without these wonderful people giving up their time to visit the shop, it wouldn't be the same. I started listing them, but quickly realised this was a very long job. So I won't. But here's a few...David Vann, Karen Maitland, Andy Stanton, David Nichols, David Lammy MP, Hayley Campbell, Naomi Stadlen, Zehra Hicks, Nadia Shireen, Mark Watson and the Gruffalo. Thanks to everyone. Really.
Storytelling and Songs for the under 5's have been a real hit this year. Tim has nailed the guitar classics like 'Zoom Zoom Zoom, We're Going To The Moon', and 'The Wheels on the Bus'. But more recently, he's added the Wiggles classic 'Hot Potatoes'.
We started our Local Market in July. We decided that it would be cool to get people who did locally produced stuff (honey, cakes, knitted goods, ceramics, cards, veg and fruit etc) to come and sell it in the shop once a month. So, on the last Sunday of the Month at 10.30am-1.00pm the shop turns into a Local Market. It's had really good months and also it's had slow months, but we think it's a good idea (and so do a lot of other people) and we're going to keep at it next year.

We tried to break a World Record for the World's Largest Reading Group. It was hilarious (for us) and failed magnificently. But Norris McWirter certainly didn't give us much help. However, we did get about 50 people involved and that, I think, is good. We have the systems all set up now for this years effort. Which will happen btw.

I published a book in November. I published a book in November. I thought i'd better mention it twice, because it really is a very exciting development for me. London Tales by Greg Stekelman. It is the greatest book ever published and you should all buy it. It's only £40. Here is a story about how all this came about.

The rather good author Haruki Murakami had a book published in the UK this year, which was all rather exciting. It was called 1Q84 and those cheeky little pumpkins at Random House (his publishers) wouldn't let anyone sell the book until 18th October. Right, we thought, let's have a special shindig with food, film and fun on the eveining of October 17th stay open till midnight and then sell his book. We ticketed this event, (read this cos it is rather good) Fantastically, lots and lots of people wanted to come. It really was a brilliant night and many thanks go to Hungrywolf for their incredible food.
Murakami night at the shop. One of my highlights of the year.
There were loads of other stuff wot happened too. NaNoWriMo, Booker Prize Book Challenge, we have a new Graphic Novels Book Group and a new Children's book group. Knitting Club continues, as does our monthly Boardgames Day.
Plus we had this geezer turn up too;

Thanks for making this year one of the best ever. We love what we do and we can't thank you enough for allowing us to do it .
2012 will be even better....