Thursday, April 23, 2015

Pear Trees and Stately Homes

A lady phoned up yesterday.

"I've just seen your advert in History Today" (Which was over a year ago).

"I've got a copy of "Paradise and the Pear tree" what is it worth?"

Having checked that she means "Paradise and the Peri", I comment that I would need to know when it was published, and by whom to know a value.

"Well how can I know those things - I just want to know if I've made a profit."

Once we get through this one, she changes tack.

"Well in that case, can you tell me when Kingston Lacey house is open?"


Saturday, March 07, 2015

Oxford Book Fair

Click to see full booklet

Click on the poster for a leaflet and printable free entry to the fair

By golly - he is back!


My continued pedantry regarding proper use of English means that I must excommunicate myself for beginning a post with "So". However, in honour of my return to the blog I shall, just this once, forgive myself.

Yesterday was World Book Day, and this set me thinking wistfully about the days of the shop, and Mitchell Mutt ranting away. Mitchell has now retired from the world of books, and is happy just reading the occasional copy of Doggy Times. Meanwhile he has left it to me, and his younger cousin Hansel, to continue his work.

The last few years has been fascinating. (Amazingly, it is six years since the last post). With the closure of the bookshop, I've been working from home, from a warehouse, and at book fairs around the country. My trading name has changed. (Carelessness on my part meant that Ellwood was purchased by a Japanese erotic story blog - go take a look if you can read Japanese!) As a result, Ellwood Books has retired along with Mitchell, and Harrison-Hiett Rare Books was born. This is an amalgam of Harrison, and Hiett, my wife's maiden name. (Yes, amazingly, I have even managed to get married in the last few years). If I can tempt you to have a look at our stock, then please do go take a look at

Hopefully, I shall pop back here now and again to post new entries. I may not have as many weird and wonderful customers popping in to terrify me these days, but the world of bookselling still throws up oddities and amusing anecdotes. Well I think so anyway! Hopefully more humour than rant - and I promise not to mention the O word.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Bloody Hell

WHat have I done ?

Having closed the shop, I was asked to do an interview with the local paper about the demise of local businesses. I duly did this, and mentioned that in my case it wasn't the recession, but that Oxfam had a major impact.

Next thing I know, it is the headline in the local paper, and then is suddenly all over everywhere. OOPS.

Ah well - as my loyal readers, I should at least pass on the links (damn, there goes my last shred of anonymity).

Guardian piece

Guardian piece two
(lots of comments on this one)

Salisbury Journal

Daily Telegraph

Daily Mail

Third Sector Magazine

isn't that all jolly excitiing !!

catch you in a bit

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Volunteers from the local Oxfam have, naturally, popped in to gloat (I mean wish me luck of course).

One of them, after asking about my debts, where I was going, how I would sell books etc etc: told me, that the local Oxfam shop felt that I was going bust because I took my dog into the shop with me, and that some people didn't like dogs. Oxfam opening a bookshop and trying to take over the world of books had nothing to do with it at all.


Which reminds me - they rather showed their colours over the closure of the Rochdale Oxfam Bookshop. The assistant manager explained to the local press "Rochdale is too poor a town for Oxfam to consider viable for a continued presence" He went on to comment that it wasn't part of Oxfam's businness plan to support poor and underpriviledged parts of this country.

Nice !

Final Days

It is very nearly the end of the shop now. The shelves are almost empty, and virtually no sales over the last few days (no stock !)

There has been a rush of people trying to sell though. This suprised me, until one man was quite insistent that I should buy his books.

I explained that I was closing down, so wouldn't be buying his books. He said he knew that I was going, and that's why he had come quickly, as he wanted to get rid of his books before I went.

Having said to him, that with closing the shop, I probably wouldn't actually need his books, he just looked amazed. "But I don't want them" he said. "you MUST buy them."

I didn't


A chap phoned up to sell some books recently.

He told me that he expected we would be paying more for books at the moment, as with the recession, second hand books must be in more demand.

If only !

Description is everything.

I have had to enter into a "Customer Dispute" with Amazon this week. My first ever - it is very exciting.

Having sold a Proof copy of a book to a customer, I got an email from them. They told me that they had ordered a hardback and got a softback copy. It then said that they wanted to know "What I was going to do about it"

Suprised that I would send the wrong book, I checked the description. This was clearly for a softback proof - and even said "I must stress, this book is a softback proof copy - not a hardback" - Fairly clear I thought !

I replied to this effect, and so was suprised when I got a dispute from Amazon. They have told Amazon that the description didn't match the book, and they want to know what I am going to do. They also request compensation as well as a refund in their email.

Pah !!

I have always given refunds for any reason, without quibbling. But on this occassion - for the first time - I have decided to fight my corner. This person is clearly wrong. Why should I lose about £20 in postage and costs to make up for their cock up.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Hollow praise

If another person who I have never seen before, walks in, and tells me what a tragedy it is that the shop is closing - then walks out again, I reserve the right to kill them.


and Painfully.

Not getting the point !

Chap walks in..

"I have some books to sell you..."

"I'm sorry sir, we are closing down in a few weeks."

"But I want to sell you these books..."

"We are closing the shop down"

"wont you buy these before you go"

"we are closing down, I have 35,000 books - why would I want to buy some more"

"But I want to sell them"

"We are not buying sir"

"Well you are a second hand shop - you should buy them really"

I gave up at this point.

The End is Nigh

Well the closure is looming.

In about three weeks, Ellwood Books will be no more - or rather, the shop will close and we shall do all of our work online and at bookfairs.

This doesn't seem to stop people from attempting to sell me absolute rubbish en masse. And I mean this literally.

This week (and it is only tuesday) we have had two kind donations of books - black sackfulls of them.

Sadly - the first turned out to be newspapers and colour supplements. The second was mainly school text books and notepads (the sort of text book where you practice your handwriting etc) of course - they were all filled in.

So effectively, these generous souls, couldn't be bothered to go to the dump with their paper rubbish - and thought they would dump it here instead.

Thanks !

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Careers Advice

A big thank you to the manager of my local Oxfam Bookshop.

He knows about my book auction in May, and kindly suggested that if this goes well, perhaps I could give up the bookshop, and just concentrate on auctions to make a living that way. After all - there is no way I can compete with with Oxfam.

He didn't mean this maliciously, in fact, I believe he meant it kindly, but I still don't respond particularly well to the person who is bankrupting me giving me careers advice. Oh yes - I ranted !

A Worthwhile trip

A chap came in to tell me about his trip to the defunct Bookbarn down near Bristol.

Having seen it on the local news he travelled about 130 miles to grab 6 bags of free paperbacks having spent a happy couple of hours climbing over piles of discarded books. He was amazed that I hadn't had the initiative to go down and replenish my stock. I pointed out to him, that on my one trip to Bookbarn I had been saddened to find that there wasn't a single book I would want, even if free, as they were all so dirty, out of date and largely ex-library or collapsing.

"Well I was happy with my hoard, and all free" (I don't think a days time and about £15-30 in petrol has entered the equation) "so I won't be in to buy any books for a while"

I think I shall cope with this - I don't think he ever has brought anything here anyway.

Latest Score Card

I often keep a tally of the wonderful people who come into the shop. I shouldn't really, as it only depresses me.

This week I set a new record: 18 people trying to sell me books, magazines or free newspapers (yes you read that right). 1 random mad lady who only came in to tell me that she had never read a book and to ask lots of questions about the artwork in the shop. 2 people who are most offended that I would suggest they are wanting free valuations ! They just want a bit of advice and want to know what the book is worth.

The last one took the biscuit. A lady came in to ask me to repair an old bible for her (spine falling off) so would I mind just gluing it back, refixing some detatched pages and neatening the edges. I suggested the local book binders, and when she looked at their prices, she commented that the book wasn't worth their prices, and it would only take me 20 minutes or so - couldn't i just do it for free (she is on a pension you know !) Now I may be mad - but i did it for her !

On the plus side of the account - I had two sales of £6 each. All day. Oh yes - that is why we are a successful bookshop. Sadly - it is also why we will probably have to close in June and leave only one general bookshop in the whole of Wiltshire.