I don’t pay my employees enough. That’s hard to admit.
I mean, I don’t cross picket lines, I’m a patient driver, I garden vegetables and work in my wood shop, I love animals and people, and I can get along with just about anyone. I’m a good guy. And my staff are not just employees to me. I see their talents, their struggles, their hopes and dreams – their lives mean something to me. They are my friends.
They’re no slouches, either. Among us we have published writers, artists, aspiring lawyers, career booksellers, political activists, bartenders, actors and photographers. My store is not a place one goes to wash out – it’s a place one goes to click in.
Still, I know they (we) struggle. I’ve only managed to bring the starting salary about .75 above minimum plus free health insurance, book credit, bonuses at the end of the year…
I know that I’m a little late with this post but between 20th and 27th June, it’s Independent Bookshop Week! It’s such a shame that so many independent bookshops are closing down. An article on the Guardian’s website on 19th June stated, “Last year almost twice as many bookshops closed down as new ones opened. There are 939 independents left in the UK and Ireland, compared with more than 1,500 a decade ago, according to the latest count by the Booksellers Association.” It’s crazy to think that so many have had to close down.
The Independent Booksellers Week website explain, “Independent Bookshop Week (20th to 27th June 2015) is part of the Books Are My Bag campaign, and seeks to celebrate independent bookshops in the UK and Ireland. We do this with events, celebrations, reading groups, storytelling, author signings, literary lunches and face painting! Your local bookshop will have their own way of celebrating, and we encourage you to visit to celebrate with them. Check out our Twitter account – @IndieBound_UK – for regular updates on IBW events and bookshop happenings.”
So, if you’re in the market for new books, pop along to your local independent bookshop. If you’re not sure where your local independent bookshop is, you can search via The Booksellers Association. If we don’t buy from them, there’s the worry that they’ll disappear from our high streets for good.
Like many of you, I am, for all intents and purposes, a ‘grown up.’ I live in a flat, where I pay rent and bills and spend time between coming home from work and going back again. I have an alarm set for 7:20 every weekday morning. I leave the house at around 8:20 and take the Victoria line to work. I work until 6pm, when I walk back to the station and take the tube home. I worry about horrible colleagues, unmet targets and the damp in the corner of the bedroom. In other words, I have a routine. Most days, I do pretty much exactly the same thing. But some days, I do something different.
It seems to me there are two modes of everyday living. You can live in your little bubble or box, going back and forth between…
I’ve recently discovered Southcart Books, and I just wish that I lived nearer so that I could spend hours (and money, upsetting my bank manager more…) browsing through the shelves and discovering new authors. If you’re in the Walsall area, pop in!
If, like me, you don’t live near them, allow me to take you on a virtual tour of the bookshop via the medium of photos from their Twitter page (@southcartbooks).
So, if you are nearby, their address is: 20 Lower Hall Lane, Walsall, WS1 1RL #SupportIndieBookshops
‘It is clear that the books owned the shop rather than the other way about. Everywhere they had run wild and taken possession of their habitat, breeding and multiplying, and clearly lacking any strong hand to keep them down.’ – Agatha Christie, The Clocks
Stepping into Scarthin Books is like entering another world, a labyrinth of passages and stairs with books as far as the eye can see, tucked away in every nook and cranny. It is impossible to know where to look, let alone where to start. What makes a bookshop truly special, in my opinion, is its ability to draw you in as you peruse with giddy excitement in search of that one cover that will catch your eye. Engulfed in the delightfully merging scents of the crisp new and musky old book collections you soon retreat to a cosy armchair, completely absorbed in your own little…
The first entry in our Bookshop Spotlight series is the West End treasure trove that is Thistle Books! Located (hidden) on a small lane just off Otago Street, Thistle Books is owned and run by Robert Dibble and is packed to the rafters with literary delights, an impressive selection of sheet music and a well-stocked history section with a particularly Scottish flavour.
Discovered only recently after a jaunt to the nearby Tchai Ovna, I was charmed by the shop’s cosy atmosphere and excellent variety. It eschews the sort of Black Books-esque disarray and mania that most second-hand bookshops seem to thrive on – indeed, though bursting at the seams, there’s (joy) actual floor space and some semblance of order. Which appeals to strange folk like myself, who consider a Saturday spent hoovering a very satisfying day indeed.