Saturday, June 27, 2009

We Have a Website

Yes, it's true.

No, really.

It's designed to promote our shop, with information about events and news about all the nonsense that we get up. It's a bit like the blog, but with structure and no swearing.

There's a link to it here, you can Google 'Big Green Bookshop' and it'll be up there near the top.

It's brand new, and it's work in progress at the moment, but we wanted to launch it now, and improve on it, rather than procrastinate. I mean it's only been 15 months since we opened.

You can buy books on it, and we're furiously trying to add our favourite books onto the website. We don't list everything that's available in the world (the programme that does that costs quite a lot!) but we think it's important to highlight the books that mean a lot to us in the shop, but if the book you want isn't on there you can still order online by sending us a message which we will reply to within 24 hours (unless it's rudey).

There's a page dedicated to our events, which we'll update very regularly. I have 2 more to add this weekend.

We also have a page that let's people know about the other services we offer, like our Out of Print booksearch service, and our kids loyalty cards. We have a few ideas knocking around at the moment that we 'll be adding to this in the near future too.

We hope it will grow to become something rather lovely, and we're going to be adding some new pages onto it in the next few weeks. But it would be good if you could have a look around it and let us know what you think. If there's something that we've missed that's really obvious, we'd like to know, or if you like certain things we'd also like to know.

What harm can it do? CLICK ON ME>>>>

And here's a picture of some cheese.

It's a Cambozola, and a very tasty looking one at that. It's a kind of blue brie and is a milder version of Gorgonzola.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Local Things

A warning that this is likely to turn into a sweary post, so apologies about that.

Firstly I want to talk about lovely Noel Park, the area where I live in Wood Green. There's a wikipedia link to it here. It was made a conservation area and was given Article Four Direction status in 1982, which is meant to ensure that the houses keep their appearance and mustn't be altered without permission. The idea is to keep it looking pretty, because frankly, it's a lovely estate.
So, for example, you can't stick a satellite dish up on your house, or change the sash windows for alternative ones. Also you can't build extensions to the front (or back) of the house, and I suspect, you can't paint your house pink either.
Well, not in theory anyway...
The trouble is it's very difficult to stop people doing things, once they start. And this is what's happened over the last 10 or more years. It seems that this hasn't been policed particularly effectively, and now there are violations to these rules going on all over the estate.
There are lots of reasons for this. One in particular is that I don't think that many people who live in the estate even know that it's a conservation area, so have no idea they're doing anything wrong.
It's something that some of us locals have been thinking about, and one idea we had recently was to apply for a grant from the Making A Difference initiative to help raise the profile of it's conservation status by having some noticeboards put up with some history of the estate and also a map with points of interest on. These would be marked with plaques (like the Blue Plaques you see around) at each particular point of interest.
So I put together the application and sent it off. I asked for 5 grand.
I got a call today to tell me that we'd been awarded £2,500! That's all rather brilliant isn't it?
Obviously, we discussed the difficulty in affording all I'd asked for with the smaller amount of money and we thought about alternatives that would still have the impact of telling people about Noel Park, but on a more affordable scale.
I'm rather chuffed about this, and i'll keep you all informed about how it all progresses.
The timing couldn't have been better, as The English Heritage have announced this week their first ever Heritage at Risk register and Noel Park is one of the 3 Conservation Areas at risk. A link to this can be found here, and if you live in Noel Park it's worth a read.

I've also just finalised with Caroline Welch, the author of Noel Park, A Social and Architectural History, an event at the shop. Well, actually it's a historical walk of Noel Park followed by a snifter at the shop. August 13th 6.30pm kick off. So, if you want to learn a bit more about the area, this is another great opportunity.

OK here's the sweary bit.
Muswell Hill (I see it as the fancy hat that sits on Wood Green's head) 'celebrated' the opening of their first 99p store last week. Apparently it was chaos as eager shoppers piled in to pick up a bargain or two. Fights broke out and shoppers were locked in the shop until the scuffle was sorted out.
The local newspaper reported that local shopkeepers were worried that 'the new addition will cheapen the area and ruin its classy reputation.'
Happy shopper Susan Bennett said on the other hand "I just think it's brilliant and, more than anything else, it's great to see an empty shop busy again.
I don't think it will compete too much with the local traders because we haven't got anything else like this in Muswell Hill."

now then...

*** *****, co-owner of ****** **** Jewellers in the Broadway, said: "This is going to be the thin end of the wedge. It won't be long before we are another Wood Green or Turnpike Lane.

Fuck off *** *****, you pompous asshole.
Painting a whole area with your very thick and unpleasant brush doesn't help in any way.

I will say no more about it...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Chief Rabbi.

we were asked recently if we could sell books for the Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks new book Future Tense.
We said yes.

so last week I cycled from one Wood (Green) to another (St. John's) Wood, a journey of 5.3 miles, and arrived at the very lovely and very secure Synagogue, where I was greeted by a very amused security guard, who exclaimed, after I'd told him I was here to sell some books,

'you're a litle underdressed, aren't you sir?'
Fair point. Although, in my defence, I was on my bike, and would hardly be wearing my best bib and tucker (if I had a bib, or in fact, a tucker).
Thankfully, he let me in (and I did have a change of clothes in my bag), and I had a most wonderful evening. The guests were courteous and cheerful, the publishers, Hodder, had set up my table of books already and couldn't be more friendly, and the Chief Rabbi himself was a marvellous speaker and a nice chap to boot.
Well worth a 10.6 mile round trip.

It all went so well that we were asked to do sell his books at the London School of Jewish Studies, where the Chief Rabbi was doing a lecture last night.
'Of course', we said, and so off I rode (7.3 miles). Once again, it was a great night and I was treated to biscuits and coffee and everyone was lovely, and we sold lots of books.

I'm so lucky that in my 'job' I get to meet so many amazing people.
There aren't many other industries that I can think of that I would have met and chatted to all these people, Sofia Loren, Kenny Everett, Muhammad Ali, Mike Barson, Spike Milligan, Liam Brady, John Mccarthy and Jill Morell, Mick Jones, Lesley Joseph and Edward Heath. And also, on a more literary tip, Richard Ford, Nick Hornby, Chuck Palahniuk, Tom Stopppard, Dave McKee, Douglas Adams and hundreds more.
There are dozens more superstars (not in Lesley Joseph's league of course) that I could mention, but sometimes it's worth remembering how GOOD it is to be in the book industry.
Blah Blah Blah

Anyway, enough of that nonsense. Of course it's always dreadful and we should all moan constantly. That's the unwritten rule isn't it....

Friday, June 19, 2009

Mike Carey at the Big Green Bookshop

Last night we had another rather lovely event in the shop. The marvellous Mike Carey came along to the shop for some hardboiled exorcism related fun. Mike is the author of a very succesful series of Felix Castor novels and also a prolific story writer for Marvel and DC comics.

Much thanks for this event should go to Chris Brosnahan from GeekPlanetOnline, who not only suggested we invite Mike to the shop, but also agreed to introduce him (which he did, I might add, fabulously)
Mike read a chapter from the new Castor novel The Naming of the Beasts, which isn't out until early September.

He also answered some very well informed questions about the novels and also about his comic book writing.
We sold lots of books, and i'm convinced that those in the audience who hadn't read his books before, will definitely be giving them a try soon.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Most of this Stuff Doesn't Really Matter

I read the Bookseller (online), probably twice a day at least just to see what's going on in the book business. I used to read Publishing News too, before the prints stopped.
But, to be honest, the majority of the 'BIG' stories in the book trade press don't make much difference to us. For example...
Dan Brown is bringing out a new book later this year. This is important news for Tesco, Amazon and WH Smiths. They'll all sell it at half price and try and 'own' it. We'll sell half a dozen copies in the shop at its retail price.
Waterstone's is doing 3 for 2 on lots of book in lots of shops. Well, Smith's and Waterstone's do that anyway, so flip dee doodles.
Amazon is selling lots of books online. Yes they are.
Sunnyside, the new book by Glen David Gold was being offered exclusively to Waterstone's early and cheap. Well, let's be honest, Indies have been offered Indie only deals in the past (Charlie Higson, By Royal Command Ltd edition for example), so if the Sunnyside deal had gone ahead (there was a change of mind at the last minute), then we'd have just not stocked the book.

These are probably bad examples, but my point is that the most pressing issues of the week for us are:

When is the bloody lorry that parks at the end of the road, obscuring the view of the bookshop, going to ever get told to move by Lovely Rita Meter Maid.

How are we going to be at 3 school fairs on the same day next week, seeing as there's only 2 of us (Mark, I will be presenting you to the blog world very soon)

I hope the massive torrent of rain that just happened hasn't meant we have another leak in the shop, destroying £250 worth of books like last time.

How am I going to persuade Nick Hornby to visit the shop this year (maybe Haruki Murakami has his phone number, who knows)

So, in conclusion;
I read the Bookseller (online), probably twice a day at least just to see what's going on in the book business. I used to read Publishing News too, before the prints stopped. I will continue to do so, because i'm fascinated by the business that i'm in, and want to know what's going on (I guess i'm a bookaholic). But unless you choose to let things affect you directly, then it really doesn't matter, does it.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Lancashire Cheese

I've had a request to include a picture of cheese on the blog as a way of enticing new readers to the blog. Far be it from me to question the logic of Mrs E.

Here, as requested, is a creamy Lancashire Cheese

Sunday; Just The Facts.

Today I sold some books.
I sold some Lonely Planet travel guides, 2 copies of the '4 hour working week', a copy each of Mez Packer and Jayne Joso's new books and some spiritual stuff. I sold another copy of the New Chuck Palahniuk, some Rastamouse books, kids books, some cards and some giftwrap.
I also sold some novels from our novels tables.

I packed up some books that didn't sell to return to the publishers, and I discussed with various customers (at various times of the day) CGP revision guides, Wolf Hall and Fludd by Hilary Mantel, Will Self's visit to Wood Green last week, Mapp and Lucia by E F Benson and magic.

I mistook the author Gerald Durrell for Laurence Durrell and thought of two more authors to try and get to the shop for events.

I had no coffee as the milk had curdled due to the fridge breaking last week, and started to compile a list of new manga series to stock in the shop.

I couldn't find my bicycle pump, which I thought was at the shop.

I had a pee at about 1.30pm

This was my day at work.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Will Self

On Wednesday we had our most high profile event since we opened. Will Self had agreed to come and read from and talk about his new book 'Liver'.
We are the Big Green Bookshop, but we ain't enormously big. We can fit about 50 people in there, but we figured that maybe more than 50 people would want to come along. So we approached Wood Green Library and asked if they could be the venue for the event. It made a lot of sense.
They said 'why, yes of course', like all good libraries should do, and away we went.

The capacity there was 100 (health and safety), and we decided to ticket the event, to make sure that people would definitely come along. The tickets were a fiver, but that was fully redeemable on the cost of the book on the night, so effectively, if you bought a book it was a free event!

We designed tickets in the shape of a Liver, and sales were brisk.>

If we had a colour printer they would have looked like this.

Then Bob Crow, leader of the RMT, heard about the event. Me and Bob have a history going back to our school days when he used to put chewing gum in my hair and tie my shoelaces together. We've never got on. Anyway, in order to try and disrupt the event, he called a 2 day tube strike.
Well despite a few panicked phonecalls ('is the event still going ahead?', 'how do I get to Wood Green by bus?'), that didn't put off too many people, and those who couldn't make it were soon replaced by the last minute rush for tickets.
Will himself was travelling up on his bike (a man after my own heart), and everything was set.
We get everything set up and as the first of the audience started to arrive, so did Will. He was charming and friendly and as we sat and chatted, he told me not to worry about anything. I wonder how he could tell I was nervous.
We talked about short story collections and why they didn't generally sell as well as full length novels, and also about stuff that Will's been doing recently. He was interested about the shop, and talked about his visits to Wood Green when he was younger.

Anyway the library was now at capacity and after my shrt introduction, Sir William of Self stepped forward.

After lambasting the photographers that were taking photos for the local newspapers, he talked about the book and read parts of 2 of the stories. Firstly a raucous, expletive riddled section from 'Foie Humaine', which centres around a 'Colony Club' style drinking club in London. Will read brilliantly and made the tragicomedy come to life.

The second reading was something completely different form 'Lerberknodel', about a woman who, confronted with terminal liver cancer, travels to Zurich for an assisted suicide. It was heart stoppingly powerful, and it clearly moved a number of people in the audience.

After this reading he was happy to answer the audience's questions, and then signed copies of the book.

Another Happy Member of the Audience

Team Photo. Isn't he tall?

Will finally got away at about 9.30pm and thanked us for organising it all so well.

So to sum up;
  • A very happy author
  • A packed, engaged audience
  • Loads of book sales
  • New Customers
  • A great new partnership with the Library
  • A bit of a 'buzz' in Wood Green
  • A happy Big Green Bookshop

An enormous thank you to Will for coming to do this event, and we hope this will encourage publishers to move us slightly higher up the list of bookshops when it comes to doing this kind of thing.

Oh, we have a few signed copies of Liver in the shop. Give us a ring and we'll put one aside.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Betting, Babies and Blogs

Having failed so convincingly in the Betting Challenge recently, this clearly hasn't put me off wasting my hard earned cash chasing the big win. So I'm now setting myself a new challenge. It will be as follows.

1. It is entitled 'You've Got No Chance Mate'
2. I will bet an (imaginary) pound on a sporting, outcome with odds of 33/1 or more.
3. This will happen a maximum of once a day.
4. I will keep a running total.
5. It will be listed on the blog
6. It will be a shockingly bad idea.
7. It will start on Tuesday June 9th 2009

Katie's going back to work next week, so i'm going to be looking after Freya on Mondays from then. It's exciting and scary and Freya will miss her mum, but there's lots and lots to do in Wood Green for babies and toddlers, so I don't think we'll be bored.
Today I went to 'Jolly Babies' at Burleigh Road Nursery. It's a wonderful place about 3 minutes walk from the shop and despite its grant being taken away fairly recently, the Nursery is still hanging on in there.
It's called Jolly Babies, and i'm sure all the babies were very jolly until the big hairy scary man arrived. But, as is sometimes the case, a big hairy scary man who gurns and says hello is not always what a 2 year old pushing a doll's pram wants to encounter.
All the parents and kids are lovely there and for your £1.50, you get unlimited tea and coffee (and biscuits), and there's fruit and stuff provided for the littl'uns.
Places like this are so important for a community (have I mentioned community before?), and so I'll be frequenting it on many a Monday in the preceding weeks.

Google the words 'bookshop blog', and this blog that you're reading right now comes up at number 3 out of the 4.9 million things that you can click on. If I were a shot putter in an athletics competition in Valencia, that would be a podium position. I'd get a medal, some flowers, a toy duck and a kiss on each cheek. I'd have to stand there and listen to another websites national anthem, but i'd still be a national hero.

Next month, in a random urine test, this blog will test positive for the banned substance 'nonsensidrone, and subsequently be banned from writing anything for 4 years.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

A long necked goat

I'm trying to pull together a 'Summer Spectacular' at the shop to get kids all excited about books, which involves about 40 authors, 5 films, 3 pirates, 2 character costumes, over 5 venues, plus one puppeteer, one magician, 3 storytellers, and an alpaca.

Now I know that JK Rowling reads this blog and has a helicopter on stand by waiting for the call, and Stephanie Meyer just won't stop bothering us asking if she can come along to the shop...'whatever Steph'. Are there any authors out there who'd like to join us over the summer holidays to for a whole lot of fun in the Wood Green sun?
If you've written (or know someone who's written) a book for someone between 3 and 15 and think you can help, send us an email. It's going to be epic, and you wouldn't want to miss out would you?
And you might get to see an alpaca.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Jake Arnott

Last night the Big Green Bookshop welcomed Jake Arnott (grammatically it should be Jake Isnot) to read from and talk about his wonderful new novel 'The Devil's Paintbrush'.
Jake certainly knows how to write a novel, and this is a real gem. It's a bit of a departure from his previous books and it revolves around two facinating characters. Major-General Sir Hector Macdonald, war hero of the British Empire and on his way to be court martialled for charges of homosexuality and Aleister Crowley, the Great Beast and 'Wickedest man in the World' . The book begins with these two characters meeting 'by chance' in the dining room of the Hotel Regina in Paris. From there they set off into the night together, where the full tragedy of Fighting Macs situation unfolds.
The meeting between the two actually occured, and Jake has taken this and weaved a wonderful story from it. But don't take my word for it, go and buy it.

My camera has finally decided to give up completely, so for your information, Jake was wearing a blue short sleeved shirt, about 25 people turned up and we drank approx 4 or 5 bottles of wine between us. Very restrained.

I'll be looking for a replacement camera in time for Will Self next week.

I'm also on a bit of a roll, and have been putting together some brilliant new events for July -September for which you will no doubt all join us for.

Susan Boyle will not be involved in any of these events

Dan Petrescu

This is Dan Petrescu. He played for Romania, and scored a goal against England once because Graham Lesaux closed his eyes when the nasty dirty football came near him.

This is Wood Green Pet Rescue

A friend of the shop found... well this is what she says.
I rescued 4 grey kittens from our allotment that had been dumped. they're about 5 weeks old and only just onto solid food. We called the cat rescue people and they can't take any kittens at the moment. We're keeping one, but i want the rest to go to a good home who'll give them the amount of care they need. If you're interested, please get in contact...we want the others to either go seperately to houses that already have cats, or to go together..i've had a couple offers but we really want responsible owners that'll neuter them..

Think of the alternatives

If you can genuinely help, email the shop and we'll forward your details on.