Wednesday, February 28, 2007

what we have in our window

we have a number of desirable titles currently on display to passers by but the one that pushes the most buttons for me is 'City of Laughter- Sex and Satire in eighteenth century London' by Vic Gatrell. Who is Vic Gatrell? - I've no idea, well not until I read the flyleaf of this book. Have I read this book? - no. How then can I recommend it?? - here's how

'The most sumptuous and beautiful history book in years' Stella Tillyard, Sunday Times

'Rarely has a book matched its subject better than ''City of Laughter: sex and Satire in Eighteenth Century London'' Those times were gargantuan and teeming with life, and so is Vic Gatrell's 695-page, richly illustrated work' George Walden,

'City of Laughter is an overfowing cornucopia of a book, stuffed with illustrations, rippling with stories, packed with characters, ripe with quotations, rich with insights and arguments..magnificent.' Jenny Uglow, Financial times

etc etc

If Jenny Uglow says that, and as the author of 'Hogarth, a Life and a World' she can do no wrong, it's more than good enough for me.

If you think this rings a bell but can't place why perhaps it's because 'City of Laughter..' came out last October but, I think, the first print run sold out almost instantly, just after these reviews came out. Sadly our- and probably most shops, initial order was way too small (ours was: for some unknown reason we only ordered one copy!!!) hence a small print run.
I am told the reprint was done in China and so did not arrive until after Christmas. The publishers saved, I guess, around 50% in publishing costs but must have lost more than that in Christmas sales- equally there may have been no nearer press that could do such a heavily illustrated book in such short notice. (This doesn't explain why the one I am holding still claims to be a first edition)

Anyway credit where it is due Atlantic have produced a wonderful but pricey book (£35) and had the guts to reprint it after Christmas. I think it looks great and, still feeling pangs of guilt for our crappy first order, have done what we should have done all along- taken 30 copies and put it in our window.

p.s we are asked why we don't have pictures in our blogs- mostly because I and computers are a bit of an oxymoron but this time it's to make anyone reading this to leave their desks and go to a shop, hopefully ours but any will do, and have a proper look at this book.
we don't put just anything in our window you know- well not this time


Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Looking at yesterday's post I think, given my time over again, I probably wouldn't have pointed out the 'it's shorter' bit - looking at it on the screen it still seems long. Too long.

Oh well, thanks to anyone who persevered to the end- as yet no one has stepped forward to be the owl and Saber is still facing the worlds smallest compilation CD as a leaving present.


Monday, February 26, 2007

OK, Everyone makes mistakes and we seem to have mucked up big time with our newsletter/e-mail/blog/whatever it was we tried to do last time; and then compounded it by not doing another newsletter for a couple of months.
So if you have clicked on a link we've sent you, then welcome to the Pan Bookshop newsblog. Again. And this time- it's shorter.
This time there should be something posted most days, so please feel free to come and visit anytime but if we have anything we need to announce (rare, I'll admit) we'll probably do this sending out of the link through our mailing list to alert anyone of impending news.
One of the reasons the newsletter failed in the end was that we were obsessed with it containing reviews and views of forthcoming books but hey- why should it? Plus we always wanted to have read the books we mentioned (not true of all newsletters) which upped the workload somewhat which was then further increased by our really only wanting to write about books we liked. We're not a review section of a newspaper and life seemed too short to be posting knocking copy of someone else's hard work, duh. If you hit a run like I did last year, not too many actual bad books but one absolute real stinker and lots of only ok ones there's nothing to write about. Oops. Anyway I'm exhausted just thinking about it- in fact, second only to acting, book newsletter writing must be about the hardest and most dangerous thing there is.
Anyway- here is impending news
1. Saber is, unbelievably, going to pastures new.
2. Harry Potter- does anyone want to be our owl?
3. Children's reading sessions
1. and this is sad, Saber who pretty much all of you will know, has decided to up sticks and throw in his lot with Robert Topping at his new bookshop in Bath (this is not sad news if you live in Bath - I know the others Robert has recruited and they are top of the range booksellers too, this will be a really great shop).
If anyone wants to say bye-bye to Saber he leaves us on March 23rd. His Leaving do is at the Bath House (96 Dean Street).
(For any publicists worrying about missing Saber, we will carry on as before...for any publicist wishing to become Saber we are still looking for a replacement, but hurry).
I am hoping to do a cd for Saber to fondly remember us by. Prime candidate for inclusion is 'It's the end of the world as we know it (but I feel fine)' but I'm mostly after songs about books- Fairport Convention did 'The Book Song', Hawkwind, among many literary references probably did the best song ever based on a Herman Hesse novel in 'Steppenwolf', coming up to date the Klaxons quote Thomas Pynchon, Aleister Crowley and Ballard, while hot new item The Hold Steady open their new album with a quote from 'On the Road' but while reasonably eclectic this won't get me a full compilation done. So does anyone have any other examples?
(There you go, just since typing this the Pogues' 'Down all the Days' has just come into mind. And the Cure's 'Killing an Arab'- possibly a song that you don't hear quite so much any more but sound Camus references all the same. But I'm not sure we can count anything with William Burroughs- just too many).
P.S . It's Saber's birthday today
2.As you all probably know this is a Harry Potter year, in fact, THE Harry Potter year- the final installment -Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows comes out on Saturday 21st July This is a cause of great delight for us (although this is not true for all small bookshops, I know it seems unbelievable but due to various circumstances loads of shops will make barely any money from what will probably be the best selling book in our professional lives but we'll go into Harry Potter economics at a later date).
Anyway we do love Harry Potter here. As usual we will open at midnight; it might be an idea to reserve a copy if you want to come. Last time we sold more at the midnight opening than the next day and although we've never run out yet, it may happen.
We will also do our owl delivery service for the next morning, but sadly we have lost our owl as Saber normally did this. (Note to self- booksellers may leave rather than spend a third Harry Potter night in an owl costume). Every year we open we have a number of customers asking if they can help us and we normally have one or two passing out sweets etc and it is great fun- but this year someone could actually be Hedwig if they want. Any volunteers please just pass your or your child's name and contact details to us and I'll get back to you- height restrictions apply, you probably need to be at least 5ft tall.
P.S You're not committed to being an owl for both the midnight and 8.00am next morning. The first is fun but the second, while great for anyone to get their Harry Potter book delivered by a giant owl, is not such fun for the owl if you only went to bed at 3.30am- we know this from experience!
3. I do not know if any of you listen to Oneword radio, it's part of Channel 4 radio and is an arts station in general but most of all it is about books, talking about them, reading them or dramatising them. One of their regular hosts, Paul Blezard, was here the other day and while chewing the fat we all agreed it would be a great idea to record an author reading to a group of children, answering their questions and Paul guiding everyone through making sure it made good radio. We also all thought it would be even better if this was recorded in a shop, this shop (why that should make better radio, I don't know but it feels right).
Before I get back to Paul I need to know if there is any interest in parents, children or teachers attending such an event. If there is enough interest we could set up a storytime anyway. Who knows, if we get it organized fast enough we might get Saber to dress up for one last hurrah. Paul Blezard really does know a phenominal number of authors and we know quite a few too, so between us we should be able to cater for most ages and tastes.