Monday, April 23, 2007

william, it was really nothing

well, Sunday came and went and with it our first proper story time and it was certainly a learning experience. There weren't a lot of people- well, to be honest, one child and his dad and while we're being honest I should probably point out that they were here by accident!
Ho hum, but William (and his dad) certainly tried to be a good audience- he listened, he said he'd join in but one page into the first story a more basic instinct took over. 'Room on a broom' began ok but William didn't care for the cat, the plait or the hat- once he saw the cape his Superman fetish became unstoppable- I had lost my audience. I suppose a top-notch storyteller could have recovered from this and if the story had been a basic rhyme scheme maybe I could have managed but Julia Donaldson's rhythms are flawless and, I'm afraid, beyond my ad libbing skills. Anyway, once the conversation turned to Superman and all the tiresome stuff about witches and wolves was forgotten William proved to be a delightful conversationalist and I had a great half hour with him (and his dad) although I think he may have been a bit nervous about me!

The conclusions I've drawn from this is that Sunday afternoon is probably not the best time to be doing a story time. If one or both parents work then maybe standing in a shop listening to someone struggle through a story they've already read to their kids 27 times might not be everyones idea of quality time. Whereas, if you are looking after a child by yourself all day five days a week even with the best will in the world another option is always a good thing. I still like the idea of Sunday readings- the family go out for a nice lunch together and then come to their local bookstore- but I think we'll pick a weekday too- probably Monday or Tuesday.
If anyone has any ideas or if any schools wish to come along please let me know and we'll try and accommodate everyone


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

story time

well last Sunday I had a practice session for what I hope will be a regular event- the Sunday afternoon story-time at the Pan Bookshop. I am still hoping that we can do something with oneword radio and Paul Blezzard but I think that even if that happens that would be for older children- Sunday is for picture flats.
I didn't promote last Sunday very heavily as for the practice run I did not want too many people there- well that worked! Anyway between myself and Jane, who works here Sundays and was an excellent stand-in child, we concluded that 3 stories was about right for an easy half-hour session with time for lots of joining in. Also that I should probably go a little slower, this may be tricky as you can take the boy out of Essex (and even send him to Manchester for 18 years) but you can't ever really take the Essex out of the boy- we like to mangle our vowels and we like to do it at speed! Bear with us though as there'll, hopefully, be a second reader in May, and she can act!
We'll try and do one old favourite, one not so well known and one that's just come out and we'll probably knock a pound off any that are bought on the Sunday. We'll also provide some orange juice (sugar free, of course!)
I hope people can make it- fixing a time is quite tricky and I am open to any other suggestions,
3'0 clock in the afternoon would suit my family the way my two kids work but I realise that may not apply to everyone.
Obviously the idea is to get people into the shop and buy books but it'll only work if the whole thing is fun- everyone that comes to our Harry Potter midnight openings seems to enjoy themselves and that is the atmosphere I'm hoping to get here.

see you Sunday

Sunday, April 08, 2007


As a history reader and, especially, as a buyer I thought that the most annoying reviews were those where the reviewer shows little interest in the book they are, allegedly, discussing but chooses, rather, to use the occasion of a review to demonstrate their own- presumably- remarkable knowledge of the subject. I have seen this time and again from books about the Greeks to tomes pontificating on the end of the last century. Oddly enough it seems that medievalists are the most prone to this irritating habit- but that may be because I read more of their reviews.
I generally assume it is because so many historians live in such small communities that when the shaft of light created by a request from a Books Editor to write for a paper that sells to non specialists comes shining in they rise from their desks blinking and cannot believe their fortune that they now have a platform and cannot resist the urge to shout to the world everything that they know about a subject that they have devoted their entire lives to. On the other hand, I know that historians are very busy people and maybe this is a good way of covering up the fact that they have only read the first and last chapters, looked at the contents list and laughed at the photographs. Either way I can't really blame them- except it does not help me to decide how many of the reviewed book I should stock or give me a clever thing to say about it to potential customers without me having to go to the bother of reading said book.

Anyway, I'm wrong- I'd forgotten about the really, really irritating fiction review. Looking at one for a book I was going to read I came across this- I will massively paraphrase to protect the guilty and so as not to spoil it for others...'A lives alone but finds that B has done a terrible thing. A once had an affair with B but had been responsible for a tragedy in her life'....
the next line of the review is 'The shocking revelation of this secret gradually emerges.' !!!!!
well it bloody doesn't now, does it?
I'll still read the book but how annoying is that? And just to show that this isn't a rhetorical question I'll give it a 9 out of 10.


Sunday, April 01, 2007

Looking at this weeks Sunday Times hardback fiction bestsellers chart it is no surprise to find that Ian McEwan has a new book out, 'Chesil Beach' and it goes straight into the top 10. I am slightly surprised, however, to find that we, The Pan Bookshop with your help, have- according to Nielsen Bookscan- sold over 2.5% of the total sales. How cool is that.
This euphoria was somewhat diminished when I realised that the book isn't actually published yet and we may not be on a level playing field with some other shops, i.e they may not have received any stock yet. But even so- 2.5% of the national sales.