Book events, talks and signings play an important role for many a modern bookshop.
In tough retail times, they are a way for bookshops:
- to engage with the local community
- tap into the evening economy and
- create the perfect night out for punters with a huge urge to listen to random excerpts from books and sit on uncomfortable chairs.
As a bookseller, you have to field a lot of questions from the general public:
- Is this title available in The Netherlands?
- Do I pay the actual price that’s on the book?
- Is that dead wasp part of your window display?
- Where do I catch the number 75 bus?
We all love limited edition goodies.
In fact, to accompany writing this blogpost, I’m listening to my limited edition copy of Laura Marling’s Semper Femina (with bonus extra live CD) and munching on a limited edition packet of Orchards Skittles. Any excuse!
Any keen observer on Twitter will know what life is like for today’s Indie Bookseller:
We host enlightening mulitimedia events, instigate high-profile national campaigns, collaborate with critically-acclaimed authors, and bring cultural nourishment to educational establishments and the general public.
Meanwhile, a celebrated children’s illustrator will be transforming our shop window display, while our staff members project empowering messages to the world across a range of social media platforms.
The question remains however:
What do we do on the other 361 days of the year?
Back in July I wrote a blogpost about the new Philip Pullman book La Belle Sauvage, my main gripe being that Independent Bookshops such as my own were being completely priced out of selling any copies, due to the aggressive pre-publication discounting of larger retailers with deep pockets.
20 Tips from a Bookseller:
You’ve written a book.
Congratulations, I mean it, and that’s coming from someone who:
- is completely incapable of writing a book and
- counts eating a whole tube of Pringles in one sitting as a typical life achievement.
The Devaluing of Books.
Part One of Philip Pullman’s Book of Dust Trilogy (La Belle Sauvage) arrives in October.
Set ten years before the events of the His Dark Materials trilogy, this is one of the most eagerly awaited books of this year (if not the last 20 odd years) in the book trade.
When you work in a bookshop, you can usually tell when a fellow bookseller comes in. They’ll be the ones subtly straightening all your book displays and re-imposing alphabetical order on the poetry section.
If they work for a bookshop chain, you may hear them utter the words “staff discount” at some point to their friend, before walking out empty-handed.
One of the perks of running a bookshop is that you often receive ‘proof’ copies of books, those being, for the uninitiated, uncorrected draft versions of forthcoming publications. If you’ve ever read a book and thought:
What this really needs is a few spelling mistakes, some confusing typos, a front cover entirely comprised of writing and absolutely no re-sell value
then proof copies are definitely for you.