Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Bookshop A Day #23: Looking Glass Books, Edinburgh

On the run up to the release of The Bookshop Book on the 2nd October, I'm going to be blogging about a bookshop every day to celebrate wonderful bookshops and booksellers all around the world. (#bookshopaday).

Today's blog post is about:

Looking Glass Books, Edinburgh



They opened just after I left the city, and what with naming themselves after Alice in Wonderland and having quotes from 'Weird Things...' stuck to their windows before they opened, well, I wasn't going to not love them, was I?

I had a chat with Gillian, who owns the bookshop. 


Gillian! Where can we find you?

Just off the Meadows in Edinburgh tucked into the new Quartermile development.


Describe your bookshop in three words.

Fun, unique, welcoming!


What’s going to catch our eye as soon as we walk through the door?

Our favourite new books, with a backdrop of perfectly squishy purple sofas.


What’s the best event you’ve ever done?

Elif Shafak speaking at an Istanbul Review launch. We all swooned at her sharp intellect.


And your best customer moment?

There are so many! Perhaps our second birthday party earlier this year when the whole shop filled with all the lovely customers who have frequented our monochrome tiles so loyally.


Recommend a book you’ve been loving recently.

How to Be Both – Ali Smith at her stylish, inventive best is continuing to wow staff and customers alike


Why did you become a bookseller?

I’ve always loved sharing good books with people.


Why are you still a bookseller?

I love it! There’s really no other job I’d rather be doing.


If you could open a bookshop anywhere else in the world, where would you open it and why? 

I’d open a sister shop in Glasgow. I’m often told by customers/publishers that they NEED a Looking Glass Books there…


Sum up what books and bookshops mean to you in one sentence.
A book is one of the best things you can share with someone; a bookshop is the best way to share it.

--

Details of The Bookshop Book are 
here. You can pre-order signed copies (shipping worldwide) here.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Bookshop A Day #22: A Reader's Heaven, NSW

On the run up to the release of The Bookshop Book on the 2nd October, I'm going to be blogging about a bookshop every day to celebrate wonderful bookshops and booksellers all around the world. (#bookshopaday).

Today's blog post is about:
A Reader's Heaven, Australia



I had a chat with Tamsyn - a bookshop customer who loves this place. 

Hi Tamsyn! Where can we find your favourite bookshop?

In Lithgow, a small town in New South Wales, Australia.


Describe it in three words.


A lovely, friendly atmosphere.


What’s going to catch our eye as soon as we walk through the door?

The friendly staff and the beautifully designed bookshop, and of course all the books.


What’s the best event they've ever done there?

During Halloween the staff dressed as their favourite character from their favourite book. They had customers come along and I did it too. It was really great.


What's the best book you've bought from there?

There are many favourites but the best so far is Diary of Anne Frank.


Recommend a book you’ve been loving recently.

She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick. It's about a blind girl who flies across the world with her little brother to find their father and bring him home.


Why did you love bookshops?

They're a home away from home for me. I can spend hours in one and have a wonderful time. I was once locked in a bookshop because I didn't realise everyone was leaving and the bookshop owners didn't realise I was still there. Thankfully I got out and the owners found it funny.


If you could open a bookshop anywhere in the world, where would you open it and why?

I would love to open a bookshop in a place where people are disadvantaged and give them books for free so everyone can experience the joys that reading brings.


Sum up what books and bookshops mean to you in one sentence.

Books and bookshops mean a lot to me because I've had a disability since birth and during school I was teased a lot and told I couldn't read and was stupid by both teachers and students, so I proved them wrong by starting to read books and now I love reading and couldn't imagine not having books.

--

Details of The Bookshop Book are 
here. You can pre-order signed copies (shipping worldwide) here.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Author Visit: MR Carey


If you missed it, folks, I set up a 'Weird Things...' Book Club over on the 'Weird Things...' Facebook page, and our first Book Club read was The Girl with all the Gifts by MR Carey - a dystopian novel which could have been the book baby of Never Let Me Go and The Walking Dead. I thought it was bloody marvellous. So, I got in touch with MR Carey (or, as he's known to his pals: Mike), and asked him if he'd like to do an interview for the blog, answering questions sent over by you. Mike's a lovely chap and he said yes, he would. So, here we are. He's got some bloody good answers, too. (Apologies if your question isn't below; there were so many submitted!)

Make a cup of tea, pull up a seat and have a read. :) xx



Hi Mike! Welcome. Tell us, how have comics influenced your writing?

I think it’s fair to say that comics taught me how to write!

When I started out trying to write novels, I never got anywhere because I never had the slightest idea how to structure them.  I wrote these big, shapeless, sprawling things – narrative soup – but had no idea to wrestle them into any kind of a structure.

With comics, you don’t have that luxury.  In most cases your page count is pre-defined, and it’s totally rigid.  You have 22 pages, or 20, or (if it’s 2000AD) 5, and within that you’ve got to get in, tell your story, and get out on a resolution or a cliffhanger.  So you find yourself budgeting pages very consciously.  You become a miser, counting your beats and sharing them out with great care and attention.  And once you become proficient in doing that you can take advantage of the freedom the novel form gives you, rather then drowning in it.


When did you start writing?

I honestly don’t remember.  It’s just always been there in my life.  I’ve got school exercise books from the 1970s in which I wrote heroic fantasy and sci-fi “novels” when I was a kid.  Probably the earliest of those I still have date from when I was twelve or thirteen, but I’m pretty sure there were others before that.

I wrote and drew comics back then, too.  My younger brother Dave and I made comics for each other, each of us creating a set of characters and then taking turns to write new instalments of the story.

But I started writing full-time in the year 2000.  That was when I gave up teaching and jumped into the freelancing lifestyle.  Before that I was writing around the edges of a full-time job.  Going freelance was liberating and terrifying.  The first month when you don’t get a pay cheque after years of being in a proper job… you feel like you’ve just abseiled into the Grand Canyon.  But it’s worked out very well so far.  I’m touching wood with my left hand as I type that with my right.


What's your favourite genre/medium to write in?

Currently, probably prose – but it changes.  For many years comics were my comfort zone because I knew them inside out.  The first novel I wrote as a grown-up, The Devil You Know, started out as a very tentative affair because I really wasn’t at all sure that I could do it.  But I got more confident as I wrote, and by the time I got to book two, Vicious Circle, I just cut loose and had a great time.

But the great pleasure is mixing and matching.  Every medium is a tool kit for telling stories, and every tool kit is completely different.  Being allowed to work in so many different media at the same time is exhilarating and incredibly rewarding.  If there was some way to do that and still have time to eat and sleep, I’d have the perfect life.


Where did the idea for TGWATG come from?

Bizarrely, it came from having to write to a specific brief, instead of dredging an idea up from my own subconscious.  I’d agreed to write a short story for an anthology – part of an annual series edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni Kelner.  The thing about these collections is that they’re always themed, and the theme is something very innocent, deliberately banal – home improvements, family holidays, things like that.  This year the theme they’d decided on was schooldays. And having said I’d contribute, I hit the buffers.  I sat there for four months staring at a blank screen.  I couldn’t come up with a single worthwhile idea.

But then about two weeks before the deadline, I woke up with an image in my head.  It was a little girl writing an essay in an empty classroom. And the title of the essay was “What I want to Do When I Grow Up”.  Only the twist was that the girl was never going to grow up because she was already dead.  

The whole story grew out of that – out of Melanie as a character, and the process by which she comes to realise who and what she is.  I wrote it in four days (I was actually at a comics convention in Norway for most of that time) and sent it in, and when the book came out it was very well received.  But I had the feeling that the story wasn’t quite finished yet.  I wanted to revisit Melanie’s world and find out more about both it and her.  So I asked my editor at Orbit, Anne Clarke, for a meeting and pitched the novel-length version of the story.  And Orbit commissioned it, even though that meant rejigging a fairly complicated contract that I’d signed.  I think Anne could tell that I wouldn’t be good for anything else until I’d written this book.


What was the journey of discovering a possible botanical source behind the story? (As so many of these stories are simply "Biology scientists did something silly and let a monkey escape the lab" and yours is not.)

It was really a case of building a strong through-line to that ending – to the scene where they get to the wall and Melanie makes her choice.  I needed a rationale for the plague that would allow us to have those beats, which meant among other things that the pathogen had to be visible.  In the short story it was a virus, but a virus really wouldn’t do.  Then I remembered the David Attenborough footage of the ants infected with Ophiocordyceps.  It was utterly terrifying, and it seemed to be a perfect fit for the story.

Then I did a little reading around and discovered just how widespread these mind-control pathogens are.  Each species of Cordyceps only targets a single species of ant – but there are hundreds of species, with more being discovered all the time.  Cordyceps is a specialist, but it’s a very versatile and resourceful specialist.  So I switched from a virus to a fungus, and never looked back!

Since then I’ve read some much more disturbing things about parasitism in nature.  Parasites may be the most numerous types of organism in the entire biosphere.  They certainly make up for the bulk of the world’s biomass.  And some of these mind-control organisms, such as Toxoplasma gondii, do target mammals.  Scary stuff!


Would you survive a zombie apocalypse?

No, I wouldn’t make it out of the opening montage.  I’d be the guy who remembered at the last moment that he’d left something crucial behind in his house or his car, and I’d go back and get eaten.  Cut-away to my distraught wife saying “What could have happened to him?  He said he’s just be a moment…”

Seriously, I have absolutely none of the skills that would allow me to survive after the fall of civilisation.  I can’t change a car battery, strip down a machine rifle, make wholesome meals out of hedgerow, anything.  If the apocalypse comes, I’m a puff of smoke.


What are your thoughts on some of the other "Starts with Z and rhymes with Kombi" stories out there?  

I love me a good zombie movie – and we’ve just lived through a kind of golden age.  The Romero sequence, especially Land Of the Dead.  28 Days Later.  And weirder fare such as the magnificent Zombieland and Warm Bodies, which I thought was terrific despite its silliness.  I confess, I haven’t read much in the way of zombie prose.  I picked up Pride and Prejudice and Zombies because it seemed like such a great premise, but I felt like it needed more Jane Austen touches.  More social satire to justify the genre-crossing.

The moments I love in zombie stories are the moment when the human surfaces within the monster, somehow not quite extinguished.  The wife going back to her own front door in The Walking Dead.  The zombies in the bandstand in Land Of the Dead.  And the whole premise of Warm Bodies.  That’s the horror, really – not just being chased by creatures that want to eat your brains, but recognising friends and family and ultimately yourself in those creatures.


Who was your favourite character to write?

Melanie, without a doubt.  When I felt like I’d got her voice right, her point of view, I pretty much jumped up and punched the air.  I wasn’t confident going in that I could catch the tone I wanted – the seriousness, the innocence, the curiosity and the endless reserves of well-meaningness.  But it came together better than I could have hoped for.


Tell us about TGWATG film - how involved are you and how far has it progressed?

It’s coming along really well, and right now it’s at a very exciting stage.  I was involved right from the start, developing the story alongside director Colm McCarthy and producers Camille Gatin and Dan McCulloch.  The BFI came on board with help, advice, and actual funding which enabled me to write a screenplay.  Then we secured a distribution deal, and Camille and Dan were able to lock in the rest of the budget.  Now we’re in the process of casting.  If all goes well, we’ll shoot early in the new year – which is blindingly fast in movie terms!


Which other writers do you love?

That’s a long list.  My formative influences include Mervyn Peake, Roger Zelazny, Ursula LeGuin, Lord Dunsany, Gene Wolfe, and going back a bit further Enid Blyton.  Authors whose work I’ve discovered and loved more recently – China Mieville, Joe Hill, Lauren Beukes, Nick Harkaway, Adam Roberts.  I lost the reading habit for a while because of work pressures, and I got it back again a couple of years ago.  Definitely in a binge phase right now.


Tell us something that might surprise us about you.

There is nothing surprising about me.  Not a thing.  Grant Morrison once wrote a superhero whose name was the ! and his power was that (to quote) “he comes as no surprise”.  Wherever you meet him – even if you wake up in the middle of the night and find him standing next to your bed – you just accept him as natural, run of the mill, completely unremarkable.  I am the !

No, okay, there is one thing.  I used to be an accountant.  Only for a year.  I was trying to get out of teaching into something that would give me more time to write, so I got a job at KPMG Peat Marwick as a trainee auditor.

It didn’t take.


What are you working on at the moment?

Rewrites to the next novel, whose working title is The Boy Inside.  The last ever issue of The Unwritten.  The second episode of a TV series I’m developing with Touchpaper, the production company that did Being Human.  A movie adaptation of Jonathan Trigell’s science fiction novel, Genus.  And a pitch for a new comic series that I want to do with Peter Gross.  I keep pretty busy.


What's something you wish someone had told you at the start of your career?

Hmm.  I wish someone had given me some advice about structuring a story.  Really basic advice, along the lines of “Don’t make it up as you go along – have at least some vague idea of where you’re going.”  Structure doesn’t come by itself.  You’ve got to work at it.  I could have saved myself a lot of heartache if I hadn’t thought it was okay to just wing it.


And if you were to give a writer one piece of advice, what would it be?

You can’t write unless you read.  Read passionately and voraciously in the genres and media in which you want to write.  If you don’t love them as a reader then you won’t be able to navigate them as a writer.  I’ve sometimes been in breach of this rule myself, and nothing good ever came of it.  You’ve got to write what you love, because if you fake it your readers will know.  And there’s a kind of alchemy involved.  Reading widely doesn’t mean you end up pastiching what you read, although that may happen a bit at first.  Something will come out of all that reading and processing that’s uniquely yours.  You’ll develop a voice.  Developing a voice in a vacuum is very difficult.  Any physicist will tell you that.


Bookshop A Day #22: The Big Comfy Bookshop, Coventry

On the run up to the release of The Bookshop Book on the 2nd October, I'm going to be blogging about a bookshop every day to celebrate wonderful bookshops and booksellers all around the world. (#bookshopaday).

Today's blog post is rather special because it's dedicated to The Big Comfy Bookshop - a bookshop in Coventry that's opening TODAY. I'm very excited for Michael, who has worked his socks off to get the shop up and running - there was crowdfunding involved, which I blogged about a few months ago. I'll also be doing an event with them on the 29th October. More details over here. 

So, yes, they opened their doors today and are now a real-life actual bookshop. Hurrah!

The Big Comfy Bookshop, Coventry



Michael! Where can we find you?

You can find me in Coventry, UK, in the new creative quarter Fargo Village. It's made out of the bones where the very first bicycles were made in the world!


Describe your bookshop in three words.

Cosy, eclectic, homely


What’s going to catch our eye as soon as we walk through the door?

Well (hopefully!) if you look up straight away, there's a huge HUGE quote spanning the width of the shop! Plus, it's all very Red.


What’s the best event you’ve ever done
?

As it's open NOW I don't have one that I've done, however, a certain Jen Campbell will be here October 29th that I'm extremely excited about!


And your best customer moment?

Whilst doing book stalls and craft fairs a young girl came screaming up to me and took no less than a dozen books in her arms then ran off! Her mum came over and bought each one!


Recommend a book you’ve been loving recently.

I visited The Book Barge and picked up Sarah Henshaw's The Bookshop That Floated Away on launch day! It's the best book I've read this year.


Why did you become a bookseller?


I came to books rather late, my early 20s, and since then loved bookshops but where I live there wasn’t one really on my doorstep, so I opened one myself.


Why are you still a bookseller?

Because my wife has just had a baby (due end of August!) and need to support my family! Plus, what I love most is mingling with new people daily and discussing the world.


If you could open a bookshop anywhere else in the world, where would you open it and why?

It'd have to be New York. The hustle and bustle and the complete insane people that would walk through the door would be amazing.


Sum up what books and bookshops mean to you in one sentence.


A second home.


--

Details of The Bookshop Book are 
here. You can pre-order signed copies (shipping worldwide) here.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Bookshop A Day #21: Collins Bookshop, Adelaide

On the run up to release of The Bookshop Book on the 2nd October, I'm going to be blogging about a bookshop every day to celebrate wonderful bookshops and booksellers all around the world. (#bookshopaday). Today I want to tell you about:

Collins Booksellers, Adelaide


I spoke to Tarran, who is their assistant manager. 

Hi Tarran! Where can we find you?

You can find us at Castle Plaza Shopping Centre in the best city in Australia, Adelaide.


Describe your bookshop in three words.

Friendly, Quirky, Family-Orientated


What’s going to catch our eye as soon as we walk through the door?

Great smiles, Event Posters and Book Pyramid.


What’s the best event you’ve ever done?

There have been so many but I think this there are three that really stand out. One was Hannah Kent, author of ‘Burial Rites’ we had so many people lined up to meet Hannah it was amazing. The second one was Matthew Reilly with his book ‘Tournament’ we had to hire a venue to fit all the people that wanted to see him speak. The third was last year’s National Bookshop Day, this is an all day event we have in Australia to celebrate the local authors. We had a special guest come and boy did it get busy. Our special guest was Peppa Pig and they had to wall off the supermarket and surrounding stores because the mall was filled with kids.


And your best customer moment?

My best customer moment is also one of the hardest because I have to repeat it. There are customers that come into the store that have told me that they have loved every book I have recommended to them and they say they will only come to me for their books now.


Recommend a book you’ve been loving recently.

One of the books I have really liked is by an British/Australian author Alan Baxter. It is a dark urban fantasy involving Kung Fu, malevolent grimoires and the end of the world, perhaps. It is very well written and a fast paced novel. Explores Australia, Britain, Rome and Alaska and has proven to me that not all urban fantasy is the same stuff with different names.


Why did you become a bookseller?

I have loved anything to do with books since I was four. I could think of nothing other than writing that I would love to do than work in the bookstore. Books are portals into other worlds and if I can help people feel the love for the humble but magnificent book then my job is done.


Why are you still a bookseller?

I have been a bookseller for 14 years now and I still love my job. I love the feel of books and I am addicted to the smell of books. There is nothing better than walking into the store after it’s been closed for the night and breathing in the scent of the store. I like finding books new homes and I love the people we meet and the interesting stories they tell.


If you could open a bookshop anywhere else in the world, where would you open it and why?
I will have to be boring and say Adelaide. There are too few bookshops left and I would love to open one down in the south of Adelaide. We are the festival city and we love good music, good food/wine and most of all great reads.


Sum up what books and bookshops mean to you in one sentence.


Books and bookshops are one of the best means to educate yourself and whether is through fiction or non-fiction, a good bookshop will inspire the reader to go further and imagine higher – Nothing is impossible.


--

Details of The Bookshop Book are 
here. You can pre-order signed copies (shipping worldwide) here.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Bookshop A Day #20: Re:Reading Bookstore, Toronto

On the run up to release of The Bookshop Book on the 2nd October, I'm going to be blogging about a bookshop every day to celebrate wonderful bookshops and booksellers all around the world. (#bookshopaday). Today I want to tell you about:

Re:Reading Bookstore, Toronto


I had a chat with Chris, who owns the bookshop. 

Hello, Chris! Where can we find you?

548 Danforth Ave Toronto On Canada www.rereading.ca @Re_Reading info@rereading.ca


Describe your bookshop in three words. 

Clean – Organized - WellStaffed


What’s going to catch our eye as soon as we walk through the door?

The large isles and large organized shelves and the giant map of the world on the wall.


What’s the best event you’ve ever done?

Opening day. We opened on April 4th 2009 after building the store in 4 weeks. Still our best day ever.


And your best customer moment?

The octogenarian Scottish lady (Alice) who came into our store once a week for the first 4 years we were open. Failing health has prevented her from coming as often but she still brightens our day every once in a while.


Recommend a book you’ve been loving recently. 

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides  


Why did you become a bookseller?

25 years as a customer in Used Bookshops gave me the hunger to be the person on the other side of the counter.


Why are you still a bookseller?

We have been open 1900 days and I have gone home frustrated 6 times. That to me is an EXCELLENT ration. 


If you could open a bookshop anywhere else in the world, where would you open it and why?

Airlie Beach Australia. That is where I plan to retire and having a bookshop would give me a place to go everyday to meet people and talk about books.


Sum up what books and bookshops mean to you in one sentence. 


If you find a job you love, you will never work a day in your life - RH Heinlein.


--

Details of The Bookshop Book are 
here. You can pre-order signed copies (shipping worldwide) here.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Bookshop A Day #19: Spiral Bookcase, Philadelphia

On the run up to release of The Bookshop Book on the 2nd October, I'm going to be blogging about a bookshop every day to celebrate wonderful bookshops and booksellers all around the world. (#bookshopaday). Today I want to tell you about:

Spiral Bookcase, Philadelphia


I had a chat with Ann, who owns the bookshop. 

Hi Ann! Where can we find you?

Our store front is 112 Cotton St., Manayunk, PA 19127. Manayunk is a small neighborhood in Northwest Philadelphia. It used to be a booming mill town in the 1800s, but has now transformed to a quaint village-like environment replete with small indie shops, wonderful restaurants, and a strong community spirit.

You can also find us online: Our website. Our online storefrontFacebook.

Twitter & Instagram : @spiralbookcase


Describe your bookshop in three words.

Charming. Well-Curated. Devoted.


What’s going to catch our eye as soon as we walk through the door?

As soon as you walk through the door, you see our center display. We stack the books on top of vintage crates, and a giant old dictionary, creating what we hope is an interesting and inviting arrangement. Ever-changing, we populate the display with personal recommendations, and popular, thought-provoking, and unusual books. We want it to speak to our visitors and show them what they might find in the store -This is not a cookie cutter store, we have a range of new, used, and weird books, and care is given when selecting our stock.

Look to the left and you’ll be greeted by one of our top-notch booksellers and perhaps, our staff cat, Amelia, will be checking you out from her favorite perch in the Parlor of Peculiarities.


What’s the best event you’ve ever done?

That is a hard question to answer. Since we’ve opened I believe we’ve worked on about 300 events. They run the gamut from author signings, to open-mics. to musical performances, to book clubs, workshops, festivals, literary gatherings and more.

One of our more recent events - The Spiral Salon for the Literary Insane - definitely stood out. We have held other Salons in the past, bringing together an eclectic mix of authors, artists, and musicians, but as we have a predilection for the macabre and unusual we thought it would be fun to create an salon celebrating literary horror.

The evening started with a cocktail hour, featuring a folktale-inspired drink, The Yellow Ribbon. (3 parts lemonade, 1 part vodka, rimmed with strawberry jam.) At night, we formed a procession with drumming and lanterns, and moved slowly to our neighboring park to begin the terror. We shared well-known creepy tales from Poe and Lovecraft, ominous poetry, eerie urban legends, other frightful firsthand tales, and ended with a selection of murder ballads. We had volunteers to hold lanterns for the readers to see, and sinister songs moved us from one tale to the next. Everyone had a great time, and it was fun to hold a nighttime event in our local park, lending a perfect ambiance to the readings. As we are now in the Halloween spirit, we will be holding another Salon for the Literary Insane on Sat., Oct. 25th.


And your best customer moment?

There are many, many wonderful customer moments, every single day. That is one of the perks in running a bookshop - having people pop in every day with a story, or a quiet determination of finding the right book, or bringing us into their world by asking for the perfect recommendation. There are a couple of moments that stood out for me, because of their impact.

After having my daughter Zelda it took some time to adjust to the demands of parenthood and the demands of owning a small business. I was having a particularly hard day and one of our regulars came in. He could see that I was upset, even though I tried my best to hide it. He browsed and bought a book, asked about my new daughter, and as he was leaving he asked what my daughter’s name was. I said Zelda. Ah, he said. Have you heard of the song Beautiful Zelda by the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band? He then gave me a bit of a smile, and left. I immediately found it on youtube, watched it, and promptly cried. He made my day- he gave me something that I much needed at that particular moment. I was reminded what an integral part customers play in not only our shop experience, but in our lives. video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TbzsNhs62lY

Another experience that only happened a couple of weeks ago, involved a mother and her two twin teenage daughters. They came in one Saturday evening and as soon as they stepped through the door, the twins were beaming, absolutely beaming. They were speechless, walking around and taking everything in. They plopped down near our vintage book section and just started flipping through books. One looked up at me and said This place is like heaven. Oh, how I absolutely adored hearing that. They put together a stack of books, giddy from the surroundings, and we chatted for a bit. I knew the shop left a deep impression and having that ability to connect with people is uplifting and powerful.


Recommend a book you’ve been loving recently.

Why The Child is Cooking in the Polenta byAglaja Veteranyi translated by Vincent Kling.

The author’s stark narrative voice and the dark folktale that winds around the characters create an unforgettable tale, uncovering a spiritualistic understanding of hardship and brutality within the confines of a circus caravan.


Why did you become a bookseller?

I’ve always had an inner passion to connect with people and I grew up with parents who consistently encouraged my love of reading. We frequented any and all bookstores we could find and we went to the library all the time. I studied English and worked at the Library of Congress as a Copyright Specialist, so slowly but surely my book knowledge expanded and grew.

My husband and I moved to Philadelphia in 2009 and the neighborhood where we moved, Manayunk, did not have a bookshop, although we felt it was the perfect setting for one. In the winter of 2009 we posited the question - Why not? At that time I was commuting from Philly to DC and ready to take the leap - to start something of my own. I started researching more and building a collection. We were going to start on-line, but the perfect space fell into our laps, so we secured a storefront.

I wanted to serve our literary community and celebrate the printed page by seeking out and presenting both popular and uncommon titles. I wanted to become a community hub, holding events and engaging our customers, becoming that welcoming space that everyone should have a chance to experience. Our name, The Spiral Bookcase, lends itself to those beliefs. The Spiral Bookcase is a coming together of ideas and people, an extremely inclusive space, creating an environment of shared stories and shared experiences.


Why are you still a bookseller?

After four years as a bookseller, I can’t imagine doing anything else. It is a multi-dimensional pursuit and at the core - the creative act of writing and the dynamic act of reading - is, I believe, essential for a greater understanding and empathy to the world around us. I have an inner drive to not only create a shop where readers can find the next perfect book and to recommend the right book to the right person, but to also create a third space for people to relax and engage in the world around them. I am extremely devoted to the shop - to sell, discuss, and show-off stellar books and to connect the people who share in this common devotion. There is nothing like it.


If you could open a bookshop anywhere else in the world, where would you open it and why?


Cork, Ireland. I studied abroad at UCC in Cork City and formed a deep connection and appreciation with the city and with Ireland. When I returned to visit friends a couple of years ago, the connection was still there and, I think, will always remain. I visited every bookshop I could, and pictured having my own place among them. I can still picture it.

My Irish friends and I have discussed the possibility of opening a seasonal shop in Ireland. But as magical thinking goes, I think it will happen one day.


Sum up what books and bookshops mean to you in one sentence.

One word : Connection.


--

Details of The Bookshop Book are 
here. You can pre-order signed copies (shipping worldwide) here.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Bookshop A Day #18: CUP Bookshop, Cambridge

On the run up to release of The Bookshop Book on the 2nd October, I'm going to be blogging about a bookshop every day to celebrate wonderful bookshops and booksellers all around the world. (#bookshopaday). Today I want to tell you about:

The CUP Bookshop, Cambridge


I had a chat with Alastair, who works there:

Hi, Al! Where can we find you? 

Right in the centre of Cambridge close to the market square and in sight of King’s College Chapel.


Describe your bookshop in three words.

Academic
Historic
Unique

What’s going to catch our eye as soon as we walk through the door?

Our display of new publications, and our ‘green bags in seven colours’

(Fairtrade tote bags promoted as a green/eco-friendly alternative to plastic). The seasoned book buyer will also notice pretty quickly that we only sell books published by Cambridge University Press, so we’re quite unusual.


What’s the best event you’ve ever done?

One of the nicest events we do is the Alumni Tea Party that we host for the University of Cambridge every year. It’s not an event intended to make sales or to raise our profile outside the University community especially but it’s lovely to hear generations of Cambridge students come back and share their memories of Cambridge and of the bookshop. It’s heartening to know that people associate the bookshop with some of their fondest memories.


And your best customer moment?

Probably the funniest request was from an American lady asking if we had any CDs of Shakespeare reading the Bible. Also, I always smile when I remember a CUP author who, seeing me struggle with back pain, invited me to lie on the floor with her so that she could demonstrate some physiotherapy exercises whilst the other customers simply stepped over us as if nothing unusual was happening.


Recommend a book you’ve been loving recently.

I’ve finally got to the final part of John Updike’s Rabbit series. It is utterly absorbing. I also enjoyed Robert Harris’ An Officer and a Spy recently.


Why did you become a bookseller?

I became a Bookseller as a stop gap in between studies with the aim of paying off my University debts. In the end I managed to keep my job and continue my studies part time, so having my cake and eating it. Sadly I managed to keep my debts too.


Why are you still a bookseller?


For one thing I’ve never known what it is that I want to do when I grow up. But also I think bookselling is fundamentally a decent trade that attracts good people which is a lot more than can be said about other professions. I might not be changing the world with what I do but hopefully I’m not doing any harm either. And maybe, just maybe one of my customers will buy a book from me that does inspire some world-changing event.


If you could open a bookshop anywhere else in the world, where would you open it and why?

I’d be hard pressed to think of anywhere better than Cambridge given the number of willing and appreciative customers that abound. The location takes some beating too. Having said that, a quiet community in the countryside where you could really get to know all your customers quite appeals.


Sum up what books and bookshops mean to you in one sentence.


Books should be as essential to any high street as the butcher, the baker, the post office and the books they sell should nourish and support those communities in their own fundamental way.


--


Details of The Bookshop Book are 
here. You can pre-order signed copies (shipping worldwide) here

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Bookshop A Day #17: Torbay Bookshop, Devon

On the run up to release of The Bookshop Book on the 2nd October, I'm going to be blogging about a bookshop every day to celebrate wonderful bookshops and booksellers all around the world. (#bookshopaday). Today I want to tell you about:

The Torbay Bookshop, Devon


I had a chat with Sarah, who runs the shop:

Where can we find you?

In sunny Paignton, in South Devon


Describe your bookshop in three words. 

Welcoming, memorable, fun


What’s going to catch our eye as soon as we walk through the door? 

The browsing tables full of the latest reads and our special choices.


What’s the best event you’ve ever done? 

A four hour marathon Book Signing with Francesco da Mosto, the Italian count who did ‘Francesco’s Venice’ on the tv. Queues round the block, overexcited customers desperate to meet him, attended by local BBC tv.


And your best customer moment? 

When any customer comes in specially to tell me that the book I recommended really touched them.


Recommend a book you’ve been loving recently. 

A Discovery of Witches, by Deborah Harkness, an academic romp through history with vampires and witches!


Why did you become a bookseller? 

From a publishing background it seemed a natural choice and our local town didn’t have its own bookshop.


Why are you still a bookseller?

It sort of gets into your blood and your customers would be horrified if there was any mention of moving on.


If you could open a bookshop anywhere else in the world, where would you open it and why? 

I love where we are, so nowhere else would better it. 


Sum up what books and bookshops mean to you in one sentence. 

To exist without books in my life is unthinkable, bookshops are the best way to communicate all those thoughts and ideas on paper to the world.


--


Details of The Bookshop Book are 
here. You can pre-order signed copies (shipping worldwide) here

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Sleeping Dogs and a Book Tour

Happy weekend, folks! I hope you're having a good one. Mine consists of writing, emails, press stuff for The Bookshop Book, tea, cake, and this little one sleeping beside me:


I thought I'd put up a blog post letting you know where I'm heading on my Bookshop Book book tour! These are the dates that have been confirmed. There will be more. If you'd like to get in touch with me about doing an event, you can drop me an email. 

If you're near any of these places, please do come along - it would be lovely to see you :)

Sunday 5th October 2014
Wigtown Book Festival
3pm talk about The Bookshop Book, Q&A and signing. Buy tickets.

Monday 6th October 2014
Book Corner, Saltburn-on-sea
7pm-8:30pm: booksigning and meet the author event.

Saturday 11th October 2014
Special event in London
details to be announced

Tuesday 14th October 2014
West End Lane Books, London
7:30pm. Talk, Q&A and signing.

Wednesday 15th October 2014
7:30pm-9pm: Waterstones Castle Street, Norwich
Chat about 'The Bookshop Book.'
Tickets are £6 or £4 for concessions and loyalty card holders, with £3 redeemable against a purchase of the new book on the night. Refreshments will be provided.

Thursday 16th October 2014
Blackwell's Oxford
'Will Bookshops Exist in 100 Years?' A discussion with Jen Campbell and Mark Forsyth. 7pm. More details here.

Saturday 18th October
Ebb and Flo Bookshop, Chorley
- more details soon

Tuesday 21st October 2014
Waterstones, Hampstead
evening event - more details soon

Wednesday 22nd October 2014
George Bayntun Bookshop, Bath.
7pm talk and signing. Tickets £6.

Wednesday 29th October 2014
7:30pm: The Big Comfy Bookshop, Coventry.
Fargo Village, Far Gosford Street, Coventry, CV1 5EA
Audience Q&A and signing.

Friday 7th November
Much Ado, Sussex
evening event - click for details

Monday 10th November
Hull Literature Festival
- more details soon

Monday 17th November 2014
Shakespeare and Company, Paris
- more details soon

Thursday 20th November 2014
Beccles Books
- more details soon.

Thursday 27th November 2014
Rossiter Books, Ross-on-Wye
- more details soon

Saturday 6th December 2014
Pritchards, Merseyside
- more details soon.

Friday, 19 September 2014

The Bookshop Book: Sneak Peek!

Today I got to hold copies of The Bookshop Book for the first time. (Good news, folks: the book smells delicious!)

Here's a little sneak peek...







The Bookshop Book is out on the 2nd October. Details are here. You can pre-order signed copies (shipping worldwide) here

Thursday, 18 September 2014

The Bookshop Book is back from the printers!

It's two weeks until publication date, and look what just came back from the printers! I am full of nervous-excitement and looking forward to sharing this with you all on the 2nd October.


Details of The Bookshop Book are here. You can pre-order signed copies (shipping worldwide) here

Bookshop A Day #16: Linghams, Heswall

On the run up to release of The Bookshop Book on the 2nd October, I'm going to be blogging about a bookshop every day to celebrate wonderful bookshops and booksellers all around the world. (#bookshopaday). Today I want to tell you about:

Linghams, Heswall


I had a chat with Eleanor, who runs the bookshop.

Hi Eleanor! Where can we find you?

248 Telegraph Rd, Heswall, Wirral CH60 7SG

www.linghams.co.uk


Describe your bookshop in three words.

Multicoloured multisensory Tardis


What’s going to catch our eye as soon as we walk through the door? 

Out of your left eye: A tall stand with all the latest books in media: eg R4 book at bedtime, book of the week, classic serial etc

Out of your right eye: a big table with all the latest new super glossy hardbacks of every kind.

And behind that there’s a shelf where your subconscious eye will see all the latest hot paperback fiction just in.


What’s the best event you’ve ever done?

There have been so many but the one that stands out recently was with Andy NcNab. Shop jammed to overflowing with people. He was compelling, electrifying and knew exactly how to work the crowd. (Also extremely good-looking)

This is the thank you present we gave him afterwards:



We also had a great event with Michael Winner years ago who wrote us up afterwards in his column in the back of the Sunday Times.


And your best customer moment?

There have been many hilarious ones but the most moving was when we recently attended the funeral of a greatly loved customer and were told Linghams was where she loved to be most.


Recommend a book you’ve been loving recently.
‘The Goldfinch’: Donna Tart. Also ‘My Salinger Year’ Joan Smith Rakoff


Why did you become a bookseller?

Because I LOVE BOOKS (statutory dull answer but nothing else would do)


Why are you still a bookseller?

As above. NOT for the money (there isn’t any). And because its so wonderful to be right there when the newest books comes out by a favourite author. And because we love meeting all the wonderful authors when they come to do events.


If you could open a bookshop anywhere else in the world, where would you open it and why?

I would like to open a shop like ‘Shakespeare and Company’ in Rome because it’s the home of everything cultural and the most wonderful city in the world. (Or Mumbai because the Indian nation really take their books seriously and it's a fantastic cosmopolitan city)


Sum up what books and bookshops mean to you in one sentence.

Like the Narnian wardrobe or Mr Ben’s changing room, books and bookshops open a door to time travel, world exploration, scientific understanding, expanded imagination, human insight, and self- discovery.

---

Details of The Bookshop Book are 
here. You can pre-order signed copies (shipping worldwide) here

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Bookshop A Day #15: The Ullapool Bookshop, Scotland

On the run up to release of The Bookshop Book on the 2nd October, I'm going to be blogging about a bookshop every day to celebrate wonderful bookshops and booksellers all around the world. (#bookshopaday). Today I want to tell you about:

The Ullapool Bookshop, Scotland



I had a chat with Katharine, who works there. 

Hi Katharine! Where can we find you?

The Ullapool Bookshop is situated in North West Scotland, only 55 miles from Inverness. Ullapool is a small village and is the main port for the Outer Hebrides. Ullapool has its own Book Festival annually in May and the Ullapool Bookshop is open 7 days a week all year round.


Describe your bookshop in three words.

Bright, airy and eye-catching.


What’s going to catch our eye as soon as we walk through the door?

Each section is labeled clearly, with display tables showing local interest books, new fiction and Non-fiction titles. Also our staff always endeavour to greet customers too, so a warm welcome always awaits. Although the entrance area to the shops is quite small, inside it is surprisingly spacious inside.


What’s the best event you’ve ever done?

As we are a small bookshop, events are quite hard to accommodate. However, we do receive quite a few passing visits from authors who have stopped by, including: Ian Rankin, to Louise Welsh (New Honorary Chairman of Ullapool Book Festival), from Zoe Strachan, to Matthew Zajac and including a Poet touring Scotland on a bike! A diverse mix of visitors in only the past twelve months!


And your best customer moment?

There are many probably every day, and all 4 of us who work in the Bookshop, probably have many different moments to tell. However, for me, it is lovely to help customers to find a book and we love talking about books. Recently, I was asked for help recommending books for first an 8 year old boy, then for his 11 year old sister. Once they had chosen books, another customer came over and said how lovely it was to hear me talk about books and how totally in tune these kids seemed to be with my suggestions. That was a lovely moment for me.


Recommend a book you’ve been loving recently.

I read fiction widely, so I’ve thoroughly enjoyed The Lewis Trilogy by Peter May. However, a new travel book by Guy Grieve called ‘Sea Legs’ journeying with his very young family on a yacht from Venezuela to the Isle of Mull, is enthralling me at the moment. His descriptions are very vivid and as a reader, you seem to be with them at all times and through all their ups and downs.


Why did you become a bookseller?

Really by chance, although I have always loved books and talking about books too. As well as working in a Bookshop, I also run my own small business distributing Classical CDs throughout the UK. Through this I got talking about books in the Bookshop, and eventually ended up working part time in the Ullapool Bookshop as well. I am very lucky to have both of my main interests and passions (books and music) both being my work. How lucky am I!

Why are you still a bookseller?

I love all things book-related really, I like also working with people and enjoy the discussions that we can have in a bookshop on a daily basis. For me my book selling career is very young, I’ve only been a bookseller for nearly 3 years, so I still have lots and lots to learn, which is exciting!


If you could open a bookshop anywhere else in the world, where would you open it and why?

I would open a shop anywhere really, as long as it was an independent Bookshop. I think it is so important to keep independent bookshops and in particular to retain independent shops at the forefront of our lives. Bookshops always contain much more than just books, they are an integral part of all of our lives.

Sum up what books and bookshops mean to you in one sentence.

Books (and I can also include Music?), really mean everything to me, with the journeys they can take you, the friends that you can make and also the tales that they both can tell.

---

Details of The Bookshop Book are 
here. You can pre-order signed copies (shipping worldwide) here

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Bookshop A Day #14: The Bookshop, New Delhi, India

On the run up to release of The Bookshop Book on the 2nd October, I'm going to be blogging about a bookshop every day to celebrate wonderful bookshops and booksellers all around the world. (#bookshopaday). Today I want to tell you about the wonderful:

The Bookshop, New Delhi, India


I had a chat with the brilliant Rachna, who runs it. 

Hi Rachna! Where can we find you?

Right beside the magnificent 15th century tombs of the Lodi sultans in Lodi Gardens, but here’s an address:

The Bookshop
13/7 Jorbagh Market
New Delhi 110003
India

# 011 24697102 thebookshop@hotmail.com


Describe your bookshop in three words.

Literary, Friendly, Community-Hub

What’s going to catch our eye as soon as we walk through the door?

It’s a small shop, so it’s like walking into a cave of literary treasure. Everywhere you look there is scintillating literature from India and the world.


What’s the best event you’ve ever done?

We launched Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children in Delhi before he became a world-renowned literary figure.


And your best customer moment?

When Gabriel Garcia Marquez visited Delhi, he strolled into The Bookshop and spent an afternoon there, browsing and chatting with the founder of the store, KD Singh. The next day he said in a newspaper interview that it was one of the highlights of his visit to the city.


Recommend a book you’ve been loving recently.

How is one even possible, so here are three. Passion Flower, by Cyrus Mistry / The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker/ My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff


Why did you become a bookseller?

My parents started The Bookshop because my father was always a bit of a maverick and decided that rather than go into the family business he would follow his passion for literature and start a bookstore that would stock literary fiction and quality non-fiction. I grew up in this environment and decided that there was nothing else I would rather do than work with superb books.


Why are you still a bookseller?

Because working with books is the only thing that interests me. In addition to being a bookseller, I also run a major literature festival and am associated with a publishing company—so books are my universe.


If you could open a bookshop anywhere else in the world, where would you open it and why?

New York-quite simply this has to do with the buzz I experience every time I’m in an iconic indie in that city


Sum up what books and bookshops mean to you in one sentence.

Life itself.

---

Details of The Bookshop Book are 
here. You can pre-order signed copies (shipping worldwide) here

Monday, 15 September 2014

Bookshop A Day #13: Niche Comics

On the run up to release of The Bookshop Book on the 2nd October, I'm going to be blogging about a bookshop every day to celebrate wonderful bookshops and booksellers all around the world. (#bookshopaday). Today I want to tell you about the, quite frankly brilliant:

Niche Comics, Huntingdon, UK



I'm going to hand you over to Angela, to tell you all about it.

"Hello Jen!

"I wanted to tell you about our bookshop – set up to give two lads with Asperger’s Syndrome a satisfying experience of work, where they could engage with customers and manage their own workplace.

"Both my sons - Adam and Guy - had Statements and excellent Learning Support at School, then Adam went on to get a degree in Philosophy and his career prospects seemed limited to casual work and I expect if public sector administration jobs were still around he would be well set up.

"Adam suggested a comic shop and we laughed out loud then looked into the options and realised that really it is a community in itself, with all indies supporting each other. The shop they're now in happened to come up on the market, and with a legacy from grandma it took off. They had the support of a business link advisor and some friends of the family who ran their own businesses. That lasted about a year whilst the shop was renovated (Guy did a lot of the labouring himself!) and they went on lots of courses and workshops run by Business Link and HMRC etc.

"So the decision to set up in business wasn’t taken lightly. They used their own savings to buy the stock. They are lucky in not having to pay rent and business rates but have managed to stay in the black. They are now into their 3rd year and turning over a profit, as well as loving what they do with a growing customer base.

"The bookshop sells new comics, books including lots of graphic novels, table top games and Games Workshop. The shop was originally built in 1573 so has all the charm of a Tudor shop with its timber frame and original features still very much in evidence.

"Adam and Guy do all the orders, finances and running the shop themselves, with a bit of help on the social media and events side. They get groups from the local special needs school and Mencap home coming regularly as well as links with the local schools who buy books and events such as World Book Day.

"Many customers are local and cover all ages. The shop was designed to be a welcoming and safe place for everyone in the community.

"It's so good to see a business run by young people putting their stamp on their community, enjoying and sharing their passion for books and reading."

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Bookshop A Day #12: Travel Bookshop, Notting Hill

I hope you're all having a lovely Sunday! I though today, for #bookshopaday, we could sit back and relax, and relive this clip from Notting Hill. It never ceases to amuse me that Dylan Moran appears here as an annoying customer, and then went on to do Black Books...


And a related 'Weird Thing...' that happened once in our bookshop:

Customer: This is the bookshop from the film Notting Hill, isn’t it?
Bookseller: No, I’m afraid it’s isn’t. 
Customer: It is. It looks exactly the same!
Bookseller: Well, not really. The bookshop in Notting Hill is a travel bookshop. Also, it’s in Notting Hill - the place.
Customer: You have a travel section, though.
Bookseller: ...Yes.
Customer: Are you not allowed to tell me that this bookshop is the one from the film, is that it?
Bookseller: ...We are not the bookshop from the film. 
Customer: Oh (winks). I see, I get it; you’re not allowed to say. It’s because you know Hugh Grant, right?
Bookseller: ...No. And Hugh Grant doesn’t actually work in that bookshop; that was just for the film. 
Customer: Aha! So you do know Hugh Grant!
Bookseller: No, I... 
Customer: Is he here? Is he in the back room?
Bookseller: What? No!
Customer: It’s ok, don’t worry; I won’t tell a soul. 

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Bookshop A Day #11: Uppercase Bookshop, Washington

On the run up to release of The Bookshop Book on the 2nd October, I'm going to be blogging about a bookshop every day to celebrate wonderful bookshops and booksellers all around the world. (#bookshopaday). Today I want to tell you about:

Uppercase Bookshop, Washington


I had a chat with Leah who runs it. 

Hi Leah! Where can we find you?

Near Seattle, WA USA in Snohomish

Describe your bookshop in three words. 

Whimsical, diverse, surprising

What’s going to catch our eye as soon as we walk through the door? 

The clocks on the wall telling time in different fantastic lands i.e. Hobbiton, Hogsmeade, Oz

What’s the best event you’ve ever done? 

Edgar Allen Poe Reading at Halloween, with the lights out and candles lit.

And your best customer moment? 

Anytime a customer comes back to tell us they loved one of our recommendations

Recommend a book you’ve been loving recently 

The Luminaries

Why did you become a bookseller? 

We wanted our town to keep its bookshop

Why are you still a bookseller? 

We still want our town to keep its bookshop

If you could open a bookshop anywhere else in the world, where would you open it and why? 

London. Because London.

Sum up what books and bookshops mean to you in one sentence.  

The entire human experience can be found in a good bookshop. Books are the gift of incredible perspective.


"A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic." Carl Sagan

Friday, 12 September 2014

Bookshop A Day #10: Liberties Press Bookshop, Dublin


On the run up to release of The Bookshop Book on the 2nd October, I'm going to be blogging about a bookshop every day to celebrate wonderful bookshops and booksellers all around the world. (#bookshopaday). Today I want to tell you about:

Liberties Press Bookshop, Dublin



A fab bookshop in Ireland. I spoke to Chris, who works there. :)

Hi Chris! Where can we find you?

We are based in South Dublin near Terenure village’s busy crossroads. ‘Liberties Upstairs’ nestles between Cronin’s accountants and O’Toole’s butchers with Perceptions hairdressers below us. Look out for the ‘A’ board featuring our latest titles outside the street door. Just walk up the stairs and we’re straight ahead!


Describe your bookshop in three words. 

Niche, bijou, artn‘crafty.


What's going to catch our eye as soon as you walk through the door?

As you walk through the door, you will immediately spot Mary Kenny’s be-hatted cover portrait in the middle of the biography section. To the left and behind, you would catch a splash of red our display table (Becoming Mum by Kate Carbery) and over to your right side you’ll see the gold of our wonderful Patrick Scott book which is complemented by the gold threads in Áine O’Connor’s multimedia pieces.


What's the best event you've ever done?

That’s a bit tricky, but I would have to plump for our poetry event which combined the Dublin launch of Moyra Donaldson’s The Goose Tree with readings from her work and from Gabriel Fitzmaurice who launched Moyra’s book. It was lovely to have two such talented poets reading at one event. We had a very sociable evening and nobody seemed to want to go home afterwards (though nobody stayed long enough to wash-up).


And your favourite customer moment?

I’m going to choose a moment from the event that I mentioned above. One of the attendees came early and bought a couple of books but said that he had to leave early to get to the theatre. Later in the evening I asked him what time he had to leave and he said ‘Oh, I can go to the theatre anytime, but this is not to be missed’. You couldn’t get a better complement.   


Recommend a book you've been loving recently. 

This is cheating a little here but I’m offering two books. A Liberties Press recommendation is Daniel Seery’s A Model Partner about Tom, who comes up with an imaginative way to find love and is sad and funny in equal measure. My other choice is one of my recent second hand book bargains, The President’s Hat by Antoine Laurain (Gallic Books). I was caught by the strap line that asked ‘could a felt hat have the power to change lives?’ The hat in question belonged to François Mitterand and you’ll have to read the book to find out. 


Why did you become a bookseller?

The literal answer is that one day several years ago, I was browsing with my sister in a new bookshop in Birmingham. As we were wandering around we eavesdropped on a couple of customer enquiries to which the assistant didn’t have answers. I whispered to my sister that I could have answered those, to which she smartly replied ‘Well, write in for a job then’. So I did and the rest as they say is history.  


Why are you still a bookseller?

I’m still bookselling; though now in Dublin and not Birmingham because I can’t imagine doing a job that doesn’t involve working with books. And I quite like people too.  I’ll know when it’s time to quit when I can walk into another bookshop and not feel the urge to straighten the shelves, put a book back in the correct section, or to answer overheard customer queries.


If you could open a bookshop anywhere else in the world, where would you open one and why?

After pondering the question of location, I think I would have to say York; to be specific I would like to have a bookshop in the Shambles. It’s been a while since I was in York so I don’t know if there is one in that historic street at the moment. 


Sum up what bookshops mean to you. 


Bookshops mean access to freedom, ideas and thoughts. I can get to places that I’d never otherwise visit and meet people from many places and centuries that I would never meet except between the pages of a book. 

--

Details of The Bookshop Book are 
here. You can pre-order signed copies (shipping worldwide) here