Thursday, September 25, 2014

James Patterson

Earlier this year, James Patterson announced that he was going to be donating £250,000 to independent bookshops in the UK and Ireland. James Patterson is a bestselling author whose books have now sold more than 300 million (well played James). The money was going to be given to shops who would use it on encouraging children to read and we had to pitch ideas. Grants between £250 and £5k we're being given out.

Obviously, Tim and I didn't want to miss out on the chance of free money, so we sent a proposal saying we wanted the money to allow us to invest more energy and time in our school visits over the next 6-12 months, with a plan to set up systems so that this could be sustained after the funding had been spent. There was a bit more detail than that, but that's essentially what we want to do.

Well, blow me down if we didn't get an email from Team Patterson yesterday telling us that our proposal had been accepted!
Simon & Tim celebrate.  (stock photo)
We asked for £5K (I mean, it would have been rude not to), and although we didn't get the full amount, we are pretty thrilled with what's been allocated to us.

As I wrote in the proposal.

  "These visits are some of the most rewarding events we put on, and I know that for many of the children, meeting an actual author is an experience that they don’t forget. These events bring reading to life for some of the kids and in many cases give them the encouragement they so desperately need to start reading books."
I really hope that we can get a few more children excited about reading and I want to thank James Patterson for giving us the opportunity to do so.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Cake & Bake Show - Help Required

Last week, we were asked to be the Official Bookshop for The Cake & Bake Show in Earl's Court. 

We said "YES PLEASE".

There's going to be loads of famous and talented chefs there, baking and the like. A lot of them have books, which is jolly great, because hopefully we'll be able to sell them. 
We've been allocated a space roughly the size of the Big Green Bookshop to display our books (!) and so we want to make sure our pop up shop is as awesome as it can possibly be. 

In order to do this, we're going to have to invest some money (and time) into it. We're heading off this weekend to buy some new bookcases to set up at Earl's Court. We're also going to be buying pretty display things, bunting etc. 
Then we're going to be ordering a hod load of books.

We need some help with the next bit. 

Next Thursday (October 2nd), we'll need to get the books, bookcases and display material down to Earl's Court. We'll hire a van for this, but we need someone to drive it. We could hire a driver, but to be honest, we've just paid our rent, and also we have to pay all the publishers at the end of each month, so we're trying not to spend any more dosh than we have to. 

If you are free next Thursday, probably for the morning, and can drive a van and can help us out, that would be amazing. It would involve coming to the bookshop, loading up and driving down to Earl's Court. Once we've unloaded the van, you can take it back again. 

We may also need someone to help us work at Earl's Court, selling books, smiling, and generally representing The Big Green Bookshop in a positive way. 
if you're free to help out, give us a call or send an email. 

020 8881 six seven six seven
enquiries at biggreenbookshop dot com. 

Hope you can help. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Recent Reads

Thought I'd share my thoughts on a few books I've read recently.

Any Other Mouth by Anneliese Mackintosh

Published by Freight Books, this was recommended to me by a couple of people on Twitter. It's a stunning collection of short stories, which can be read individually or as a complete work. It's an incredibly brave book by Anneliese Mackintosh, as the stories are clearly based on her own personal experiences. Dealing with subjects like bereavement, sex, and difficult relationships, it is at the same time, hilarious, heartbreaking, thought provoking and brutally honest. It reminded me a little of Legend of a Suicide, as I found myself wondering whether it was written as a way for the author to exorcise their feelings. Please, if you get the chance read this book.

The Red Pony by John Steinbeck

Another recommendation, this time from one of our customers, this is a coming of age story set in a Californian ranch.
Ten year old Jody is the central character in each the four stories in the book and in them we watch as he takes on and learns the responsibilities of adulthood. A cracking read. 

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

This has got lots of hype this year and has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize. There are some lovely moments in the book and a very interesting twist, which I won't spoil. I enjoyed the voice of Rosemary, the narrator, who is now at college and looking back to her childhood, growing up with her twin sister and older brother. The story revolves around the time, when Rosemary was five and is sent away to her grandparents. When she returns, her sister Fern is no longer there.

OK, it's good, but it didn't quite convince me. I can understand why people are raving about it, but not me. 

He Wants by Alison Moore  

This is a book i'd been really looking forward to reading. Alison Moore is the author of The Lighthouse, which I reviewed (quite badly) HERE.

He Wants is the story of Lewis Sullivan, a retired teacher who has lived a life of routine and order. But this all begins to unravel when someone from his past turns up. Flicking back and forth through Lewis' life, the tension slowly builds and builds, as a series of events never allow the reader to know exactly where the story will go. 

There is nothing of Alison Moore's that I haven't loved. Her short stories are mini classics and the two novels  are an absolute masterclass in pacing 

Et Tu Babe by Mark Leyner

Ah, this is my favourite author, and it's the third time i've read this. Mark Leyner writes like nobody else. This is the follow up to his first novel, My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist, which was raved about when it first came out in the early 90s (i think).

This book is a parody biography of his life after the global success of "My Cousin...", where he lives a life of deluded megalomania, surrounded by Team Leyner, a group dedicated to ensure that his every whim is catered for. If you haven't read any Leyner, imagine a nonstop energy burst of spectacular stream of literary  consciousness. This is writing without a safety net. It's an outrageous carnival of imagination and I have no idea how he does it. 
I reviewed another of Mark's books The Sugar Frosted Nutsack HERE  

Friday, September 19, 2014

Owen Jones. October 15th.

Wednesday October 15th 7.00pm (please note change of date)
Owen Jones Discusses "The Establishment".

We're absolutely delighted to bring you another amazing event at the bookshop, when on October 15th we welcome Owen Jones.
Owen's a socialist, Guardian columnist and author of internationally bestselling book Chavs.
His new book, "The Establishment" has just been published. In it Owen offers a biting critique of the British Establishment and a passionate plea for democracy. Behind our democracy lurks a powerful but unaccountable network of people who wield massive power and reap huge profits in the process. In exposing this shadowy and complex system that dominates our lives, Owen sets out on a journey into the heart of our Establishment, from the lobbies of Westminster to the newsrooms, boardrooms and trading rooms of Fleet Street and the City.
Exposing the revolving doors that link these worlds, and the vested interests that bind them together, Jones shows how, in claiming to work on our behalf, the people at the top are doing precisely the opposite. In fact, they represent the biggest threat to our democracy today - and it is time they were challenged.
Owen will be at the shop to present this argument, and to debate its implications.
Tickets for this are just £18.00 (which includes a copy of his book) or £5 (entrance only). Both Owen's books will be available on the night.
We hope you can make it, however if you are unable, you can pre-order signed copies of his book, which we'll post out after the event (free P+P in the UK)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Splinters. The Best Collection of Dark Fiction EVER

In November 2012 I (Simon) published a collection of short stories by Joseph D'Lacey. It is called Splinters.

This was my second foray into the murky world of publishing. My first was a book called London Tales by Greg Stekelman (which incidentally I have just unearthed 3 more copies, if anyone wants to buy it). 

Anyway, back to Splinters. 
For those of you who are interested, Joseph D'Lacey is an phenomenal author. In 2009 he won Best Newcomer at the British Fantasy Awards, after the publication of Meat, a deliciously dark slice of post apocalyptic horror.
This was followed by Garbage Man (landfill comes to life, bad things happen), Kill Crew (200 survivors, trapped together, from who knows what...), Blood Fugue (Eco thriller, visceral vampire horror), Snake Eyes (two novellas. One a total mind trip, the other a surreal giant monster tale with a twist) and most recently his stupendous two volume Black Dawn series, which if you haven't read, I thoroughly recommend. You will never look at a crow in the same way again. 

As you can probably tell, I am a huge fan of Joseph's writing. Which is why I asked him if I could publish his short stories. I'm delighted he agreed.
It's a collection of short stories that showcases Joseph's talents as a writer.
Here are some reviews;

Michael Wilson's review HERE 
Nathan Robinson's HERE 
and HERE is the review by BookCunt.

During September I am selling Splinters for just £4.49 (free P+P)

The reason I am doing this is because I really want you to read it. It needs to be read. So, if you like fiction, NO MATTER WHAT GENRE,  I urge you to give it a go. Joseph is a very special author.


Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Judy Dyble. Live at the Big Green Bookshop

Friday October 17th – 7.30pm
Judy Dyble is an award winning singer songwriter, who was one of  the vocalists and founder members of the legendary band Fairport Convention. After Fairport and some early work with Giles Giles & Fripp, she became half of Trader Horne. More recently she's released two solo albums, to huge critical acclaim. I got to know Judy when I found out that she used to work in Wood Green Library! Isn't the internet amazing. She's been a big supporter of TBGBs since we decided to try and open the shop. Here's an interview I did with her in 2008.

Here's Fairport in 1968

I was also very lucky to see her perform at the 100 Club when her incredible album, Talking With Strangers was released. The intimate atmosphere of the club really highlighted Judy's amazing voice.

So, it is with immense pleasure that we can announce that on Friday October 17th, Judy will be performing LIVE at the even more intimate Big Green Bookshop, with Alistair Murphy and Jeremy Salmon.

I still can't believe it's actually going to happen!

Tickets for this are just £6 and available HERE. Be quick, because they will sell out very quickly.

Do NOT miss this (if you can help it).

Booker Prize

For the last 4 years, we have run a Booker Book Challenge.  

It worked like this. When the Shortlist was announced, we'd get in copies of the books and challenge our customers to read as many of they could before the winner was announced, about 5-6 weeks later. For a one off payment of £25, we became a lending library, where instead of forking out up to £80-£90 on the shortlist, people could borrow each of the books from the shop and at the end keep their favourite. 
We also offered 20% off all the books (unheard of!).

We'd then meet on the evening that the winner was announced and discuss each of the books, choosing our own winner, before watching the result live on TV.

It was really popular and we loved that so many people got involved.

The shortlist is being announced today, but we're not going to be running it this year. 
It doesn't make me happy to do this and it won't make a blind bit of difference to the Booker Prize organisers, but (and I've been banging on about this for a while now) there is still a book on the longlist, a longlist that was announced OVER A MONTH AGO, that isn't even published!

There are a number of issues about this that piss me off. Here's the main one. 

To be eligible to enter the Man Booker Prize novels must be published between 1 October 2013 and 30 September 2014 in the UK 

However, this is another one of the rules;
Publishers, I suspect knowing that the organisers would do nothing, ignored it completely. 
The organisers did nothing. 

How are bookshops expected to support and champion this prize, if our customers aren't given the opportunity to READ the books. Yes, I could have got in touch with the publishers and got advanced reading copies for myself to read, but that really isn't the point. 
Actually, it is the point. Because it seems to me that the Prize has little to do with the public. It seems to be becoming an inclusive, industry focused love in. 
This is an important year for the Man Booker Prize. They've changed the rules, so that now all English-language writers are eligible (don't get me started on this). So for the first year, I might not be able to read books by US authors too!

++ Update ++
The shortlist has just been announced and the six books on it are published. One was published last week and one was published 10 days ago. Both these titles broke the rules of the Booker Prize.
I hope that next year, the Booker Prize organisers ensure that the rules are adhered to, and act if publishers ignore them. Because until they don't, we won't be supporting the Prize.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Stocking Small Presses

It’s really hard for small presses or self published books to get into any bookshop. With so much stuff being published at the moment, it’s a real minefield for bookshops. This must be frustrating for the publishers and the authors too.

We get many emails and visits from authors asking us if we'd like to stock their books. Sometimes these visits work. Like when Jason from Guerilla Books came in with author Andrew Lambie and persuaded me to read Carnival of the Flesh. I did, I adored it and now we stock it and have sold around 30-40 copies at £20 each. 
This is amazing. Buy it.

But this is a rarity. We can't read every book that's shown to us.

But, we want to support small presses and self published authors, so we’re going to try and give you an opportunity to have your books, face out at the front of our bookshop. But you’re going to really have to believe that your books will sell...

Here is the usual journey of a new book to our bookshop;
  • ·         We like the look/sound of a book
  • ·         We order it from the publishers
  • ·         It arrives with an invoice, which we have to pay in 30 days.
  • ·         We get the books at a discounted price, so for example we will buy a £7.99 paperback for about a fiver
  • ·         The book sells and we make about £3
  • ·         We reorder it

The best chance we have of selling a book is by displaying it at the front of the store, on a table, or by writing a review or by telling our customers that it is a brilliant book.
This is how we propose to give small presses the opportunity to get their books on the shelves.
  • ·         You get in touch with us and tell us a maximum of 3 titles you want us to stock (they MUST be fiction)
  • ·         Once we agree, you pay us £1.50 per book per month (between 3 and 6 copies per title) to display in the shop.
  • ·         We will then put your books in our dedicated “Small Presses” bookcase at the front of the shop.
  • ·         The book sells for £7.99 (for example).
  • ·         We give you £7.99

So, essentially, you will be paying as little as £4.50 per month to have your book displayed in the shop. That’s a very small price to pay, but the potential rewards are very good. You will have the opportunity to write a review of the book, which we will stick on the shelf by the book. You can also tell all your friends that the Big Green Bookshop in Wood Green stocks your book, so they can come and buy it. If you sell all the books within a month, you can put some more there for a quid each.

So, if you really think your book is good enough to sell, get in touch and persuade us to put it in the “Small Presses” bookcase. Obviously, if it sells loads, we’ll stock it permanently.

The bookcase will be launched at the beginning of October, so if you want to there at the very beginning, now’s your chance.