Saturday, September 02, 2006

We didn't sell our souls at the crossroads

A tv production company offered us £1500 to use our shop to film a candid camera style prank show.

We turned them down.

Our principles are intact even if our bank account isn't.

It still hurts though...

That's a lot of spondoolies...


  1. Good for you!! I hate that candid camera stuff!


  2. Did you turn it down because it was Television or because it was a Candid camera prank ? Good if the latter, silly if the former.

  3. Well done, indies don't kiss arse and accept minor gratuities : perhaps Pan Macmillan will oblige with their shop.

    Who the fuck wants to be somebody else's wallpaper ?

  4. TV ok but secretly filming people not so ok...

    As it happens Pan and our good friend Crow also turned them down.

    Soul feels good this am but the wallet is moaning as usual!

  5. Despite protestations from my twelve year old, I turned it down too, because, as a friend said; it's not something I would ever watch, so why would I want to be part of it?

    Lord knows, the loot would have been nice though.

  6. This sounds like a classic case of middle class snobbery rather than than high minded principles...I suppose it would be Ok to film in a WHSmiths because their customers are not as 'sophisticated' as your customers?
    Are you running a business or a hobby?

  7. Assuming that Kubrick is not a mere troll, I would say that bookshops like mine have a strong working class base. Customers here range from lawyers to lords of the realm,from farmhands to industrialists and of course working mums determined to give their kids a good start in life.

    Me, I'm working class ; dad's family came from Stepney and used to working 7 days a week just to put food on the table.

    Incidentally,I did have a BBC film unit in my shop for several hours 10 days ago, I was not paid for the interview and did it as a public service.

    I, for one, wouldn't want my premises to be used just to take the piss out of people, certainly not mickey take people who might under different circumstances be valued customers. Few indie bookshops have any financial reserves, but we have souls and genuine feelings for our customers.

  8. Don't rise to the bait Clive - click on Kubrick and you'll see what a nothing he/she/it is...

  9. Do I need a blog to be a 'somebody'?
    Maybe I misunderstood the exact nature of the TV offer - which you did not elaborate upon - but don't expect unanimous praise just because you said no.
    Turning down an offer that would make your customers appear foolish is a very wise decision. I would agree with you. Lauding it up here in your blog as moral victory for the 'indies' or a blow for the noble principles of bookselling is pompous and idiotic. That it got such rousing support from everyone (bar Susan Hill) makes me want to reach for the sick bucket.

  10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  11. (Sorry - removed my previous comment because I made a factual error.)

    Anyway to clarify - the prank in question was to be played on a female employee - i.e. me - and also female customers. Speaking as the intended target I don't think my dignity is worth £1500 and I certainly don't think anybody else's is either, no matter where they shop or how "sophisticated" they are.

    This isn't about indies v the big boys or even about bookselling in particular - it's about what happens when someone offers you a lot of money to do something you don't think is right. Here's a question: how much would we have done it for? £5000? £50,000? No amount of money, ever, at all? How much are our "high minded principles" worth? How much are yours worth?

    And you don't need a blog to be somebody.

  12. No Kubrick, you don't need a blog to be somebody, but hiding behind an alias is not a great way to announce yourself to the world, is it, particularly if you are going to spend your Sunday afternoon attempting to shoot ducks in a barrel.

  13. Kubrick - This blog is not about us telling the world how brilliant we are.

    It is an attempt to give a light hearted view of life in an independent bookshop.

    You will find all sorts of nonsense on here - none of which we expect anyone to read.

    Aggressive comments are a bit of a waste of time no? My comment to you was a bit out of line but I was P'd off - in the blogosphere most people that comment do have blogs. If not then you can register an e-mail or whatever. If you want to be a part of the conversation it is hard for people to take what you say seriously if you choose to remain anon. And if you don't like what you read here then don't come back!

  14. Ultimately we thought about our regular women customers. The prank was to try and chat them up in an 'amusing' way by copying a scene from the movie 'The 40 Year Old Virgin' (A very funny film by the way) The production company were assuring us that this was a family show and that the joke was on the actor.

    As ever with these things the joke always becomes about the victim. And we know that our regulars would be annoyed, shocked, upset and disappointed that we'd let them be treated that way. And, they'd probably never come back. Which would be a shame because they're really nice people and they spend a lot of money here!

    However, any other filming opportunities will be greatly welcomed! We're not that unshameless.

  15. If they had just wanted to play a trick on me I'm sure the boys would have taken the cash. But I would have asked for half of it. At least half of it...

  16. Marie,

    ....and your agent would have required the other half !

  17. If they call again, send them up the hill to my office. My dignity is worth a lot less than £1500!

    Good call though - if any adverse affects on your customers would last longer than t it would take to spend the cash :) A shame the opportunity wasn't something more positive.

    Talking of lack of dignity though... did you see the bloke standing in the street at lunchtime today a few doors along from you with his trousers round his ankles? He was there for ages and unfortunately I do not think it was a candid camera prank.

  18. yeah, yeah, yeah
    we didn't take up the offer either- though in all honesty they hadn't got around to offering money at that point so no moral high ground for me. I just don't like disturbing the customers, we don't even have music here let alone film crews- hell sometimes it seems like we don't even have staff.

    Anyway, the reason why I write is, who is Clive Keeble? I go away for 2 weeks and when I come back every screen I look at seems to contain some blog comment from him- and then it appears that he doesn't seem to have a very high opinion of me even though I don't think I've met him.
    At first I thought he must be some blog avatar of adam a sort of Mr angry alter ego but I suppose he must be a real person with a real shop.
    can you enlighten me.

    julian, manager Pan Bookshop
    sorry no blog yet e-mail

  19. Greetings Julian - Clive is the "angry old man" of bookselling and a grand bloke once you get used to him!

    I think it's Macmillan (charkin) he has a problem with, not you...