Sunday, February 21, 2010
New series: Bookshops I Love: Simply Books, Bramhall, Cheshire
As I said yesterday, I thought I'd start profiling the bookshops as well as the libraries stocking my books.
I had heard about Simply Books from colleagues - what a wonderful bookshop it was: what fantastic, judiciously chosen stock, how helpful the staff, Andrew Cant and Sue (not sure if they are married), are, how exciting they make things with reader events. And then I read in a Times article that, in an era when independent bookshops are closing at a rate of knots, they had won the Independent Bookseller of the Year award for 2009.
On Saturday afternoon I drove over to check it out, and to ask if they might be interested in stocking my books. As soon as John (who was with me) and I entered, I could see Andrew at the till, and noticed him look up straight away to see who had entered - he's obviously completely on the ball and alert to his customers. As for the stock on display: the first thing that hit my eye, rather than the latest blockbusters, was a face-out copy of a Jonathan Safran Foer novel, and another of a John McGregor novel. The shop is also a colourful haven for child readers, and all over the window were posters advertising author events. As soon as he had finished at the counter, Andrew was straight over to ask if he could help me, and to my great delight he said he would order both my volume of stories, Balancing on the Edge of the World, and the novel Too Many Magpies. And he put me on the spot by asking that question I should have expected, because you're always told you'll be asked it, but which so few book buyers do, since (I guess) they don't often bother trying to sell things to customers: 'What do I say to customers when I'm trying to sell them this book?'