Friday, 18 November 2011

Use bookshops this Christmas

Bookshops are far more important than some people seem to think. Writers and readers need real bookshops and the passionate, expert booksellers who work in them. Amazon are expert sellers and, indeed, quite passionate about selling, but they are not passionate, expert booksellers. I don't object to the fact that they sell lots of books, of course - I simply object to how little they care what they sell as long as they sell lots of it. Beans or books, they don't mind. Mind you, there's also my amusing story of Sainsbury's and the Great Bacon vs Books Contest, which elicited and interesting and, at first, positive-sounding contact from the head of "entertainment" and a cordial email conversation between me and the head of book-buying.  (I will report on the result of this conversation soon, but unless I get a reply to the requested suggestion I put together months ago, it may be a short and unhappy report. Come on, Sainsbury's - you can do it!)

Anyway, this post is not about Amazon or Sainsbury's but about bookshops, and passionate and expert booksellers. I've met them in Waterstone's, Blackwells, Foyle's and loads of independents. My pledge this Christmas is to buy books for as many people as possible and to buy them from bookshops. Physical ones. Proper ones. Not supermarkets. In Edinburgh, we have lots of choice and they are all excellent: Waterstone's (several branches), Blackwells and The Edinburgh Bookshop.

AND LOOK - you can nominate your favourite in the Telegraph Small Shops Awards.

If you're a writer or you know a writer who lives within travelling distance of Edinburgh or Oxford, here's something for you. Perhaps you could suggest that the loved one in your life buys it for you? Do pass this info on, please!

BLACKWELLs OXFORD WRITE TO BE PUBLISHED - Books + 2-hour event on Thurs January 19th, 7-9pm, with refreshments - £25
Blackwells approached me with the fab suggestion of a Christmas present package for writers. The package consists of a copy of Write to be Published, the ebook* of Write a Great Synopsis - An Expert Guide, and a ticket for an in depth two-hour evening event with me, in which I'll cover all sorts of aspects of hooking a publisher, and you'll be able to ask questions.
*This will be emailed directly from me on publication.
Interested? Either call in at the store in Oxford or phone them on 01865 792792. This is only newly launched so you could be the first!

THE EDINBURGH BOOKSHOP - Books + 1.5 hour event on Saturday January 28th, 2-3.30pm - £15
And the Edinburgh Bookshop is offering a similar package. The package consists of a prettily gift-wrapped copy of Write to be Published, the ebook* of Write a Great Synopsis, and a ticket for a 1.5 hour afternoon event with me, covering as much as I can and giving time for questions.
*This will be emailed directly from me on publication.
Interested? Call in at the shop on Bruntsfield Place at Holy Corner or phone 0131 447 1917

Both events are on my Facebook page - do sign up there so that you hear about other events and news. It's a good place to send me a message, too.

Support bookshops; support authors. Hooray!

Would you like to plug your favourite bookshops? Add them to the comments.


Dan Holloway said...

savvy marketing - henceforth you shall be known as Nicola "Bundling" Morgan. Look forwrad to getting to one of your events at last!

catdownunder said...

I like our local bookshop. It is an "indie". Although it recently changed ownership most of the old staff are still there and I know them well. It has books (of course) and cards and reading groups, a poetry group, a knitting group and an embroidery group. It raises money for the Fred Hollows Foundation (which does eye surgery in developing countries). It also has local author events and even the occasional book launch.
They are lovely about trying to find arcane titles for me and my father too. I hope it won't change too much under the new owner. If you are ever in Adelaide do visit "Mostly Books".

Neal... said...

I live in Clonakilty in West Cork, and for a small town of just a few thousand, we're lucky enough to have 3 bookshops (and many, many more pubs, which makes for a great afternoon combo...)

My favourite would be Kerr's, which passed my book shop test of having something by most of my favourite writers, and that book being a good choice from their catalogue too. I reckon that means you can trust what they have on people you haven't read. Lots of good local interest stuff too, and not at all bothered when you turn up with potentially sticky small people.

Jane Struthers said...

I agree, three huge cheers for physical bookshops. My local bookshop is The Martello Bookshop in Rye, and it's wonderful. It has a very interesting selection of books - some of which are quite unexpected - and the staff will order any book they don't have in stock (and it's usually ready to collect in a couple of days). I buy all my books from them. They also know the book trade inside out, so all their customers benefit from their knowledge and experience. They are also terrific at promoting local authors - me included, I'm happy to say.

CharmedLassie said...

Anyone in Yorkshire should try Rickaro Books in Horbury. Excellent children's section and they also operate a little loyalty scheme as well.

Dan Holloway said...

I would love to give a huge huggly recommendation to The Albion Beatnik Bookstore in Oxford. It is impossible to say in words how much that place has changed my life for the better. It is the heart of pretty much everything creative that happens in Oxford, an experience like no other from the "Howl table" to the in-house stationer, the "pick your own poet to drink out of" tea cups to the past midnight improv jazz and poetry that happen almost everynight. There's one of my many eulogies to the place over on For Books' Sake's "Battle of the Bookshops" (an absolute must-visit column for anyone the world over who loves incredible bookstores, and if your favourite isn't there, write a piece on it and send it to them!)

Cathy Powell said...

I got a big pile of books from Waterstones in Wells this summer. I would also like to do a plug for a bookshop that is celebrating 40 years in business this year. It is located in Beecroft, a suburb of Sydney, Australia.
I got some books there as well this year. I will always support bookshops while they are there, but if I need to order a book from Italy, I admit that I do use Amazon.

Jenni said...

I would do anything for a 'real' bookshop in my town :( The only thing we have is a WHSmith, and to be honest, it isn't very good. Waterstones is far better! I've never actually been to a local, family-run bookshop before - they sound amazing!

Jan said...

Praise be! You're coming south! And to my very doorstep. Anyone planning to go to the event in Oxford should hop down the road to Abingdon, where we have no fewer than TWO independent bookshops. One of these, Mostly Books, is less a retail opportunity, more a community/way of life. (Strange synergy with Catdownunder, there, I notice.) Fantastic staff (who know their customers), great stock, and the most amazing events.
Sadly, I have already purchased my copy of WTBP. I have so far read the final chapter three times. After (cough, cough) years as a copywriter, ghostwriter and editor, I already knew a lot of the practical stuff. But reading about Nicola's journey towards fiction reassured me that I'm not entirely crazy. For that, much thanks....

Leela Soma said...

I love my local Milngavie Bookshop. Friendly, helpful and has a cosy Cafe Review to sit down, relax and read the latest purchase. It has local author events and a huge children's section that is very popular. Heads up for my local 'Indie!'

Cathy said...

Win:win. I've made notes. Thank you. Cathy x

womagwriter said...

There's a lovely independent bookshop in Wimborne which is not far from me - Gullivers. They recently organised the first ever Wimborne Literary festival which was a joy to attend (I blogged about it).

Julie Nilson said...

My favorite book shop is an indie children's bookstore called Magic Tree, in Oak Park, Illinois (USA). They carry books for ages 0-18, as well as a small adults section for those of us who just might make some impulse book purchases while our kids are browsing (*ahem*).

The staff is really knowledgeable about what kids like and what the store has in stock--you can walk in and tell them the age and gender of the kid, a few details about their hobbies and other books they've liked, and the staff will come back wtih a handful of books that the kid will definitely love.

They also have a lot of fun events--for example, they recently had a "launch party" for the release of the new Diary of a Wimpy Kid book. Not only was it fun for the little fans of the books, but they also had a great time trading other book recs with each other. It's the *best* to see kids geeking out over books!

Laura Mary said...

Sadly the only bookshops near me that aren’t Smiths or Waterstones are Oxfam Secondhand bookshops (now there’s a contentious issue for you Nicola!)
I love my local Waterstones, it’s my little lunchtime sanctuary. More specifically I loved the ‘3 for 2’ offers because I’d always pick a wildcard for my freebie and have discovered many wonderful books this way!
Only they’ve now done away with the 3for2s which is very disappointing, and I have to admit, as someone who currently has £12.45 in her pocket to last til pay-day, if I can buy a book cheaper on Amazon, I will.