Sunday, 23 December 2012

Christmas books

Books are small and (mostly) inexpensive pleasures that transport you to amazing worlds, that make you think, help you learn and many will be books for keeps. They're also some of the easiest presents to wrap and some of the best presents that I've received. Add a small box of chocolates and most readers will be delighted. Readers do seem to prefer it if you keep it simple and look at their wish list or shelves for obvious collectible gaps. On receipt of the present they may also be planning their disappearance to a quiet corner with a good reading light at the earliest possible opportunity.

All my Christmas shopping, if not wrapping, is done and I can enjoy Christmas Eve tomorrow in peace. I can also make a start on some of the books I've bought this year with the intention of reading. I never quite seem to have the time to do all the reading I'd like. This may sound odd, but do believe me that publishers don't spend all their time reading novels.

Cornelia Funke's Ghost Knight. I've loved her work since The Thief Lord was recommended to me, so a new novel is something to look forward to.

Joanne Harris. Peaches for Monsieur le Cure. Again, a favourite author and I've started this one, but other deadlines got in the way rather and I haven't quite finished. That's not to say I haven't enjoyed what I've read so far.

Clara and Mr Tiffany. The story of one of Tiffany's female glass designers by Susan Vreeland. The cover is beautiful and the story sounds fascinating. I remember reading some sort of factual article about the history of the women in Tiffany's workshop - they worked as a separate department and one woman seemed to have creative control reporting to Tiffany himself. 

Heavenly Pleasures by Kerry Greenwood. Having read every Phryne Fisher that I could get my hands on, I thought it was time to move to a series about a baker. The extracts on her website were all tempting and I chose at random.

For anyone hoping for one of my titles for Christmas, I hope you're pleased. Plenty of husbands and boyfriends have been buying from me this month so you may well have dropped enough hints or given him a list. Anyone disappointed that the hints didn't work, well, I close the shop over bank holidays, but will be posting at any other time.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Festive bookshopping

I've been doing a fair amount of Christmas shopping in bookshops. Books are so easy to wrap and all the lovely signed books come out at this time of the year. I'm fairly omnivorous when it comes to reading material, so browse secondhand, indie and chain bookshops with equal pleasure. Well, mostly. There are, though, some points that make visiting a shop a pleasure or an endurance. Naming no names here...

My feelings are that a bookshop should:

1. Have wide aisles that you can browse in without feeling that you're about to knock a book off the shelf or bump into another customer.

2. Not have signs saying 'no pushchairs in aisles' or 'do not sit in aisles'. Surely, something along the lines of 'be considerate to fellow browsers' would be better?

3. Clear signs and floor-plans. So basic, I know, but keep it fairly constant and don't take the opportunity to re-do your internal layout every three months. Customers won't take the opportunity to look round the shop, they'll get fed up and make a swift move to the exit.

4. Friendly and knowledgeable staff. Someone who can tell me that Paul Torday wrote Salmon Fishing in the Yemen because I could only remember 'T' and they answered without a pause.

5. Remove the damaged stock from the main floor and keep replenishing shelves with new deliveries. The last thing I want is to skirt round your stock that's been so carefully stacked up against the shelves and is on the floor waiting to be damaged or see shelves so stuffed full that removing a book is a struggle.

What about anyone else?

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Quick update

It's always a busy couple of weeks when a book comes out and I spend rather too much time in the Post Office queue for my own comfort. My local branch is huge and I'm even being recognised now. Still, the good thing about this is that Candy Nevill's selling terribly well as is Lintie. She's a good cold weather book and you want to settle down with a plate of scones and a mug of tea.

Most recent orders appear to be Christmas presents. Well, most of my customers are women, so when I see a number of men buying my books I suspect they've been given lists or hints. They're also the only ones who ask if I can wrap it before posting. Yes, if I have Christmas paper about. Yes, I charge a bit extra.

The next thing on my list is to investigate the list of 'possibles' that people email me and I'm very pleased to hear from people with suggestions for future titles. It's more common than I ever expected and nice in a friendly sort of way. Sometimes I don't even get an email with a title and author, just a plot summary, so Stump the Bookseller has come in incredibly useful in narrowing down my searches. I'll need to find a copy of Veronica Westlake's The Intruders before I take things further and see what I think of it. I can see that it's a rare pony book, but that may not mean that it's sellable as a reprint. We shall see. I was never really a reader of pony books, so I just don't know. Then again, I understand that there's a country house tale in there too. Comments, as always, welcome.