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.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Obviously Underpriced

Man walks in from one of the 25 charity shops in town.

"I have a book here, that i think is rather valuable. What do you think it's worth"

"I would sell it for £10"

"Oh no - we can demand far far more than that for it"

and sweeps out.

Nice to be asked I suppose ?

George Bernard Bu******

Chap walks in. "I'm looking for a copy of George Bernard Shaw's "The Apple Cart - I don't suppose you've heard of it."

"Yes sir, I believe we have a copy in our plays section."

"Really, how marvellous - its out of print, and I've hunted high and low for it. How much is it"

"It's a first edition sir, from 1920, in a decent dust wrapper - it's £6"

"Oh no - I don't want to pay anything near that - do you have anything for a pound ?"

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Letter of the Law

I had a letter from my landlords yesterday. I can't quote it exactly as I threw it away in disgust (DOH) but I can give you the gist of it.

Please to remember that this comes on expensive embossed paper, and had a first class (38p) stamp on it.

"Dear Sir,
Thank you for your recent rent payment of £761.17 for the month of March. Unfortunately you made a mistake in calculating the final monthly payment of the year, and you owe us an addional 4p. Please could you send us this and bare (sic) in mind that the amount is £761.21 in future payments."

This, from someone who signs herself with the Full "Ba Hons, (Lancaster)" on all letter - to show how intelligent and well educated she is.

With headed paper at 10p - laser printing at 15p per sheet, 10 mins on minimum wage at £1.25 and the stamp at 38p - this cost them at least £1.88 to ask for 10p.

Needless to say - I shan't be sending a cheque. Yes - I know I have wasted almost as much time as they did on this topic - but I couldn't resist.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Lady comes into the shop.

"I've just finished decorating my living room, and I have a shelf which needs some good looking leather books. Doesn't matter what they are, no-one is going to read them. Those would do."

"Those are £1,250 madam, it is a first eiditon complete works of Thackeray in tree calf and Baynton binding"

"That's a ridiculous amount, i am happy to pay a pound or two a book".

"Well we have no leather in that range madam. We have this Faux leather classics series at £3 each, would they be suitable".

"Oh I couldn't possibly have fake leather in my home. I'll have to get some ornaments instead"

And she swept out.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Haggling in the Recession.

It may just be me, and a sense of jaded despondency setting in, but I am sure people are haggling more with the recession.

Yesterday I had a chap in, who on finding a Modern First Edition by Malcolm Bradbury, signed by the author and in mint condition, queried the price. Firstly, he tried to pay £4, telling my assistant that the £40 written inside must be an error with an extra zero.

My stalwart young chap pointed out, that Bradbury doesn't sign masses, and that £40 is very reasonable, particularly when it is currently £20 in our half price sale. He then left a message, asking me what I would really accept, as he felt that £20 is very over-priced.

Pah !! Needless to say, he will not be getting a phone call from my offering a more than 50% discount.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

What have I done ?

I have recently been setting up a book auction in Salisbury. I thought it would be good to have a decent, high (ish) end sale - with lots starting at around £50 + (so books of retail value of around £100). Am planning to hold it in the Guildhall - so all very classy and nice.

You would think !

My first promise of lots for the auction has come in. This would be very exciting - except that it has come from a gent who regularly tries to sell me old National Geographic magazines and Reader's Digest condensed volumes - and who will not believe me that neither are saleable.

Do you think he will offer me incunabula ?

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Final Thanks

Finally - thank you to the thieving little toe-rag who stole a chequebook from a bag in our private area, and has helped himself to £800 from my account.

Yep - thanks, it makes bills so much easier to deal with when I am £800 poorer.

Fortunately, the police couldn't stop laughing at what a stupid idiot he was, for writing the cheques and paying the money straight into his own bank account.

Mr Darren Streeter, your next court date is on me.

Even More Thanks

To the "gentleman" who on finding a First Edition from the 1930's, with pictorial end papers but missing a blank page before the half title, decided to haggle.

"how much for this book"

"Well sir, it is normally only £6, as it is missing a blank, so in the sale it is £3"

"so how much will you knock off for me because of the blank missing"

"No sir, that is why it is normally £6 rather than £10-15. at the moment it is £3."

"So you won't do it for £2 for me, or give me another book of similar age so that I can remove a blank page and bind it into this one"

I declined. (Then had a row with him a few hours later when he accosted me in a shop in town, to tell me loudly how extortionate my books are).

More Thanks

To the lady who selected a book (having cast lots of others around rummaging car boot style) and when told that it was usually £20, so currently £10 in our half price sale, asked for trade discount, as she is a dealer.

"But madam, trade discount is usually 20%, and we are currently offering 50% off"

Yes, so I expect 20% off the half price".

I politely declined, and asked her what sort of books she deals in.

"Oh I don't touch books, I am a antique jewellery dealer".


Thank You

A big thank you to the kind man who donated a box of "books" to our shop when I wasn't here. It is always nice to be supported and appreciated in our local community. This chap regularly tells me how he has lots of incunabula that he will dispose of one day.

Sadly, this box was entirely composed of free estate agents house details from about 5 years ago, some free NHS leaflets on repeat prescriptions, an empty cake box (crushed) and an empty packet of crisps (crumpled). Yep, many many thanks.