#1 Ripping Yarns
#2 Constellation Books
#3 Storytellers, Inc.
These posts are about showcasing bookshops all over the world and celebrating their wonderfulness. I'd like to welcome Emily from Belgravia Books to tell you about their lovely new bookshop in London.
"Belgravia Books is London’s newest independent bookshop, and opened in September 2011. Why open a bookshop? Well, we were already in the book business as publishers of translated French fiction, Gallic Books. The shop gives us an outlet to sell our own books, as well as celebrate those of other independent publishers and boost the profile of translated fiction generally. Two of our existing staff, Alison Savage and Guy Ramage, had many years’ experience of bookselling (my own was limited to a Saturday job during A Levels), so we had a good foundation to start from when choosing stock; creating displays according to Ali’s patented pyramid method; mastering the nitty gritty of discounts and databases.
"It’s been a learning curve for me, Gallic Books’s In-House Translator and now with Chief Stationery Buyer and Receiver of Books added to my CV. I have the fun job of picking pretty cards and notebooks, and the less fun job of unpacking deliveries and checking them into the system. I seem to be stricken with a curse and no box I open passes without incident – there’s always at least one battered book inside that requires a phone call, a form filled in, and before you know it the morning’s gone. Still, sitting translating all day every day might drive me to madness, so breaking it up with other tasks is a good thing.
"We’re ramping up our events programme now that we’ve hosted a few and learned what works well. We had a great crime event with three very interesting women authors, Ann Cleeves, N.J. Cooper and M.J. McGrath. They know each other well and their discussion flowed very naturally, ranging from how many drafts they do to how much sex their protagonists have (or don’t have). We’re doing several events with smaller presses like Peirene and Stork Press, which is dedicated to new writing from Central and Eastern Europe – the launch of Madame Mephisto, the tale of Magda the drug-dealer, will be held here on 19th April, accompanied by a live jazz band. We’re also bringing over many of our own Gallic authors, which started with Francois Lelord, author of the Hector series, in March.
"Events are a good way of getting ourselves known locally. We still get one or two people every day popping in and marvelling that a new bookshop has turned up on their doorstep; the owner of a local deli told us it takes at least a year for that to become a less common reaction. But we’ve already got some wonderful regulars who do their best to support us, bringing their friends in and even helping to hand round the nibbles at events. There are some real local characters. One of the most memorable so far was the lady who had been out foraging and come back with an enormous puffball mushroom, which she insisted we take a slice of. Guy was the only one brave enough to take it home and cook it, in butter, like a steak, as recommended by the customer; he lived to tell the tale."
Belgravia Books website: http://www.belgraviabooks.com
Gallic Books: http://www.gallicbooks.co.uk/
Stork Press: http://storkpress.co.uk/
Peirene Press: http://www.peirenepress.com/
Francois Lelord: http://www.gallicbooks.co.uk/?page_id=1967