Sunday, 31 August 2008

This week we have mostly been ...

..doing a little bit of this...

getting fed up at quite a bit of this...

occasionally managing a sprinkling of this...

and consuming absolute tons of this stuff...

Yes, this week it's continued to pour down outside but inside we've been busy ordering and packing! For the beginning of the new school year we've started up a schools supply service (which to be fair, has been at the top of the priority list for some time!) and a few schools have now opened accounts with us. The shop itself has been quieter this week so that's allowed us time to get everything up and running on this new venture, and we've been busily quoting, ordering, packing and delivering (and setting up the paperwork side of things... oh how I love paperwork!) and I'm pleased to say we've now completed and invoiced for our first few orders without any of those major disasters I've grown to expect at every turn! Yeay! Here's hoping it lasts!

On top of all that, I've been busily trying to get the shop website updated a bit more - the eagle eyed amongst you might have notice we now have a search page, I've fixed a few bugs and mis-directing links, and info for September has been updated too. I'm now working on September's enewsletter which should be out towards the end of the week (if anyone else still wants to sign up then just click here and submit your details).

With so much newness and updating (a scary mix of paperwork and technology) you can see why such large quantities of tea and ginger snaps have been required!

Sunday, 24 August 2008

A slightly unseasonal post...

Aside from the unseasonally (?!) wet weather we've been having recently, it's a little unseasonal in my head too - in fact, in here it's Christmas. I know, it's really too early to mention, but I'm finding out that in the world of bookselling, orders have to be made and plans put into place waaaaaay before sleigh bells begin to ring and wine is mulled. Normally I'm the most last minute of planners - I usually don't even think about Christmas till December (and I've see the Coca Cola adverts where 'the big trucks come over the hill...'), my cards almost always arrive late and my shopping is invariably done in the last week. In short, I'm rubbish at Christmas (though I do love it)!

However this week I've been thinking ahead and at least trying to plan... well, to plan how to plan. In truth, I've not got too far into it (knowing me I'll probably leave it to the last minute), but having looked through a few catalogues and started thinking along these lines, the one thing I have realised is that one of the biggest books for this Christmas will probably be Maw Broon's But An' Ben Cookbook. The follow up to Maw Broon's Cookbook which was a huge bestseller last year, the But An' Ben Cookbook is published later in September and promises to be just as fantastic as the original. As you may have seen from the posters in the shop, we're now taking pre-orders for it so if you're one of the more organised Christmassy types then pop into the shop and pre-order your copy! (And if you're not, pre-order one next time you're in anyway... it'll be one thing less to worry about on December 24th!)

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Scotland in August...

... which means two things are practically guaranteed - monsoon type rain, and the Edinburgh Festivals. Regarding the first, I'm really getting fed up with looking out the windows and seeing umbrellas and puddles (grumble grumble), but regarding the second I've had a lovely few days dodging up and down to catch some events at the book festival in the 'Burgh.

I've attended three events so far with another still to go this week and I feel so far I've had the quintessential festival experience... I've queued, I've nabbed a free bag, I've gotten lost in the unfathomable, ever-changing Edinburgh tram roadworks, I've heard some brilliant and funny authors, and I've had fish and chips on the way home. Brilliant!

First I took part in a workshop on book binding and book making. You see, when I say I love books, I mean the whole book, not just the written word within (though that's pretty good too). No, I'm also interested in how they are put together, the paper used, the stitching, and the general mechanics of producing the finished article. I love the idea of hand-bound books as opposed to machine-produced ones. The care, time and attention that has to go into each really makes them something special. So as you can tell I was very excited to attend this workshop. On the whole, it wasn't quite as in depth as I'd hoped it might be, but in hindsight, I'm not sure why I expected to produce a thousand page work of art in an hour and a half from a standing start! However, I still thoroughly enjoyed making the small pamphlet we all made, and I got a few hints and tips for my own fledgling bookbinding hobby.

...Lookee what I made! (Don't ask about the brown stamped circles in the corner, it seemed suitably arty at the time so I ran with it).

Next I attended the Times event with Ian Rankin (...I don't mean I went with him, I mean he was the one being interviewed). As well as professing a love for buying vinyl records on eBay, he had some interesting things to say about Rebus in the books, on screen and in future; his projects since then which included a serial in the NY Times which has been expanded and will be published as his first non-Rebus book in hardback next month and titled Doors Open; the lyrics (and backing vocals along with Jack Vettriano) for the band Saint Jude's Infirmary; and the libretto for a 15 minute opera performed by Scottish Opera, as well as his plans for the future which include a brand new 'Quick Read' novella for which he's currently awaiting feedback from his editors, and what currently runs to a 1010 panel graphic novel of John Constantine (Hellblazer) titled Dark Entries, and due out sometime around or after next spring.

Then it was the turn of Alexander McCall Smith, who talked about Mma Ramotswe, Bertie and the rest of the gang. After reading a few pieces from his latest 44 Scotland Street work The Unbearable Lightness of Scones, he chatted about his plans for the future, revealed that his next Mma Ramotswe novel will be called Tea Time for the Traditionally Built which my fancy-pants computer declares will be available in March next year but which he concedes hasn't been written yet... so watch this space. He also mentioned that the Botswana books are currently being made into a serial for HBO in the US, BBC in the UK and other networks around the world with the same actors as were in the first film (which incidentally was the last work by director Anthony Minghella) shown on BBC earlier this year. He also spoke about the Really Terrible Orchestra he founded in 1995 and their upcoming concerts, and the Number One Ladies Opera House he's recently established in Botswana.

So that's my festival so far, and I've another event to attend this week too so I'm not done yet! I hope everyone else who has attended has enjoyed it so far - stop by, email or comment and let us know which events you attended, who you've seen, and what you thought of it all!

Monday, 4 August 2008

Hot Hot Hill Climb...

Hello. Just a short post this week as I'm supposed to be shelving books and switching around the ones currently in the main windows. However, I've already organised the new theme window this morning (it's 'Motorsports', in honour of this weekend's Bo'ness Hill Climb Revival) and frankly it's just too hot for any more work that involves climbing step ladders, wrestling with uncooperative book stands and general moving around of any kind. So I'm resorting to computer work and spreadsheets stuff instead. (Note to self: in August, even in chilly Bo'ness, it's probably OK to stop dressing as if you're going to sit in an ice cave all day.)

Anyway, enough rambling. The point of this post is to say that:

a) this month's enewsletters will be sent out in the next few days so if you want sign up there's still time!

b) we have just a few copies left of Kenny Baird's Bo'ness Speed Hill Climb book in stock (Paperback, £8.99) so make sure you pop along early to get yours in time for this weekend's event! (Here's hoping the lovely weather holds out for it!)

Hope everyone's enjoying the summer!