Saturday, April 28, 2007

Water Bridges etc

The internet + big mouths = loads a nonsense...

We have said a few bad things about Picador/Macmillan/Richard Charkin in the past. Were we right or wrong? That's not the point.

What is the point?

I have a book here before me.

It's published by Picador.

It's out here in July.

It's bloody brilliant - the sort of book I get a "feeling" about. It's kind of like falling in love only a little less intense. It's all about the writing for me these days, the way the author kind of creeps out from amongst the words and gets inside your head. I laughed out loud on the bus after 30 pages. I laughed from sheer joy. It's a large book and the HB is a little unwieldy...but if this isn't sitting on every bookshop table, bedside table, coffee table etc when it eventually makes it to PB well, if I had a hat I'd eat it.



Pure great stuff fiction.

What's the book?

The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolano.

I'll say more when I've finished it...

I believe in...

Ho Ho Ho - Jose's got the blues!

I'll be at the Emirates tomorrow hoping for another miracle.

Can FFC do the double over the gunners for the first time in history and stay in the Premiership?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

BBC Radio Four - The Home of Intelligent Speech Radio...


Home of what?

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh it's good to be back with our noses to the grindstone. Being paid to go on holiday sounds great and is great for a day or so...then the meaning leaches away and leaves not very much really.

I love work. Where would we be without a bit of graft?

I'll tell you where. Thinking up bollocks slogans for the BBC website, that's where!

First day back to school blues

We're open again... you ever get that sinking feeling?

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Content is King

The website has been a DIY project from the start and we have always been 'live' with every little change and addition we make. This was probably a mistake, maybe we should have beavered away and delivered our baby fully-formed to a waiting world. Oh well.

Anyway, thanks to Mike Leigh taking over the shop it's given us a few days to try and put some bloody content on the website. If you fancy taking a look, head to the homepage and you'll see a drop-down box on the left. Every page now has something to look at and read. About time too. And it's all been set up nicely so that we should be able to keep adding titles with no bother at all. Phew.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Guns don't kill people, words do stoopid

So the former English teacher to the obviously, seriously mentally ill Cho Seung-hui, has come out saying she was greatly concerned over violent plays he had written in 2005.

Does this now mean that any work of fiction containing violent imagery or action automatically condemns the author to the status of suspect? Should thriller writers be entered onto a database and monitored if they write a book about a grisly serial killer who dismembers their victims while they're still alive?

And what about the demented work already out there? Should we ban it in case it puts ideas into troubled kids heads?

Luckily, most of us have that filter in our minds that forms the link between violent imaginings, empathy and consequences. Some, Seung-hui, obviously don't and there is not a damn thing we can do about that.

But I can't help thinking that if he didn't have access to semi-automatic pistols then the death toll would have been considerably lower.

Oops! Forgot! Guns don't kill people...

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Perception Statistics etc

You can read all about it in the Guardian piece - thankfully minus the half page photo (shot from above to hide our many chins) - how a massive hangover became a small bookshop...

My favourite bit is when Adam says "We believe in what we are doing. We think we know what we are doing."

What I wanted to point out were a couple of facts.

1: Online retail sales of books (including Amazon obviously) account for 10.6% of market share - Sales through Independent bookshops are at 15.9% of the market.

Independent bookshops sell more books than Amazon and all the other e-tailers put together.

2: Independent bookshops have increased their share of the market from 15.6% to 15.9% in recent years.

Independent booksellers are increasing their share of the book market.

Do those facts surprise you? I think most people who have a casual interest in these matters (if they care at all) would assume that Amazon sold way more books than independent shops and that independents were slowly dying off. That's certainly what many people assumed when we opened - they came in and told us we would be out of business within a year!

Of course it's all about growth. The money men love to hear about market share doubling. But how far will online sales increase? It's easy to double sales when they start at almost nothing...Not so easy to increase year on year (as our friends at Waterborders etc are aware)

Free from the tyranny of shareholders C & P is doing fine thanks. There's food on the table, new shoes on the horizon and dreams in our heads...that just might, like the shop, become reality one day.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Hit and miss these prizes.

Orange shortlist is announced - no What Was Lost by Catherine O'Flynn...what are they like?

Pulitzer Fiction prize announced - Cormac McCarthy's The Road wins it! Good stuff.

Saturday, April 14, 2007


The shop will be closed from Thursday 19th April until Tuesday 24th April for filming.

We wouldn't close if it was Hollywood, it's not. An independent British film shot in an independent British bookshop - it was a good match.

We are sorry for any inconvenience this might cause and promise to return to being a good little bookshop ASAP.

Not them again...

Our ugly mugs are plastered all over the Guardian today. Sorry folks, they came to us!

I may be mouthing off in the Times as well...

And we'll be at the bookfair next week...

And then there's the film...

Please don't hate us TOO much. We're just doing what we love.

Friday, April 13, 2007

In Memorium

Very sad news. One of our favourite customers Maureen Robinson, mother of Anna the doyenne of the Crockatt & Powell Poetry Parlour, died today. A really lovely woman who herself ran a secondhand bookshop in Waterloo for many years she was a great support and one of the first people through the newly opened doors of C&P. She told us off for having initially mixed the Poetry books in with the fiction section, 'Poetry is truth!' she exclaimed. There was soon a dedicated Poetry section pride of place, front of house.

Our sympathies and best wishes go out to Anna and her family. Maureen will be sorely missed.

Oh No! Not again...

Bloody brillaint launch in the shop last night for The Seven Days of Peter Crumb by Jonny Glynn. Another small publisher (Portobello) another shop full of people at C & P.

Jonny was a great bloke, not as frightening as I had been led to believe by reading his book. Turns out he has a nine-monther too, though his has six teeth compared to our Finn's four.

One of these days we will get ourselves a fancy camera and show you a few pics of these nights. The Porobello crew and Jonny's mates drank ALL the wine. That has never happened before! Good show chaps...

This post is staggering towards the point - I also drank rather a lot of wine having not eaten anything most of the day and the pounding in my skull is making it hard to see straight let alone write. But there is a point coming. And it concerns famous people. But not just any famous people - FRAN FROM BLACK BOOKS WAS THERE!!!!!

You guessed it, soggy brain here didn't realise. Not even when she was leaving with a dude in a natty linen suit and started asking me where they should eat. I was so busy wondering why anyone in their right mind would ask a bookseller about resaurants (let's just say we rely on publishers to wine and dine us) that I only vaguely recognised her.

"Who was that?" I asked Philip (Portobello editor) "Isn't she some sort of comic lady or something?"

"That was Tamsin Greig" said Philip.

"Oh..." said I.

"From Black Books..."


Marie used to believe she WAS Tamsin Greig. It was a constant running joke. She will never forgive me. I could have had her sign something or something...

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Curiouser and curiouser

Well, isn't life full of surprises. We were visited this morning by a famous British film director and his travelling production company. It looks like they want to use the shop as a location in his new film. Blimey.

And then a visit from a location dude from the studio making the new Bourne movie, the Bourne Ultimatum. They're filming a scene in excellent Scooterworks down the road but need the rest of the street to look open until 10 and Matt Damon will be running energetically down the alley next to the shop. As we close at 7 they are offering a small stipend for our time. Cool.

Will report in due time on how it all goes and if Matt Damon is an Ok bloke. So far the signs are looking good, the famous British film director is a very nice bloke indeed.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The other thing is more exciting but also more secret...

So I'll just say that Marie has a whole page to herself on our website now.

You can pre-order copies of her book there. If you get them from us they will be signed by the author. If you buy them from other places you will still be able to read the book fine but it won't be the same. (It won't!)

We may well have a lunchtime signing session with Marie as well - if she's not being whirled around the world too much...

David Peace Signing Session

I am very excited about this. So excited I'm going to tell you all about something that's not going to happen until September...

That's right, the author of the Red Riding Quartet, GB84 and The Damned Utd will be in Crockatt & Powell signing books and chatting to folk. Put it in your diary and make sure you take a day off work if you need to.
Now for a few words about football:
1: David Peace has written one of the best sports books ever (and there's quite a tradition) with his fictional portrait of ol' big head Brian Clough - The Damned Utd. It's our bookgroup book for this month. Read it and come along on Monday 30th April to add your tuppence.
2: Finn went to his first football match on Monday. (He went in the womb quite a few times. In fact we never lost a game when he was at a match in the womb.) We lost 3 - 1 to Man City. Finn had a word with Al and now Coleman has been sacked. Hopefully the next match he sees will involve a bit more football and a bit less rubbish.
3: Did you see Man Utd last night? Now that's how to play football...Chelsea by contrast, what a joke. Liverpool or Utd for the champions league.
4: I'm glad I support a team where you have no problem sitting with a nine month old boy on your lap (not in my usual seat - found a spare right on the end of a row in case of emergency but, like the fireworks when he was four months old, he loved it) rather than the kind of club that attracts idiots who want to kill each other and opposition fans.

We're BACK and there's too much news...

Lovely hols - a bank holiday when it didn't rain?

The website has changed again. Adam has been busy. One of these days we will stop fiddling around with it and add some proper content - maybe today in fact.

The rest of the news deserves new posts...

Thursday, April 05, 2007

A Banksy Moment...

Let me explain. When we opened the shop there was a Banksy on the side DESIGNATED PICNIC AREA and an arrow pointing to the ground where our fruit and veg bloke puts his dud stuff at the end of the afternoon.

We like Banksy. The shop is in Banksy Locations and Tours by Shellshock publications.

But when we first saw the book Wall and Piece we were confused. Banksy in a book? On the wall, that's fine, but in a book? That's kind of lame...

We chose not to stock it.

People asked for it.

We began to stock the odd copy, somewhat reluctantly.

We were asked for it a lot more.

We stocked more.

We began to sell tons.

We are idiots we thought - why didn't we stock loads from the start? We would have sold twice as many.

Now we have had another Banksy moment.

Last week we began to add rather funky bands to the books we had read recently - in a staff recommends kind of way.

We didn't do this at first.


We thought it was obvious that, since we were small, we would only stock books we liked and therefore everything in the shop was recommended - otherwise it wouldn't be there...

But that was stupid.

As soon as we started banding books they began to sell at double speed.

So, another Banksy moment.

You live and learn eh?

Too much cheap lager destroys the memory. Fact

I've just been interviewed by a nice man from the Guardian about the book trade. It's going to be in the saturday business pages I think. Unfortunately I've completely forgotten everything I said to him. Oops. I don't think I said anything toooo bad.

Vincent understands us.

"Woolworths may be forced to sell off Bertram Group, the books wholesaler that it bought in January, after a referral of the acquisition to the competition watchdog."

A month or so ago we blogged about woolies buying up all the book wholesale operations in the country thus jeopardising the indies by compromising the relationship between bookseller and wholesaler.

We, of course, assumed the worst and expected the purchase to be steamrollered through the Office of Fair Trading without even so much as a whimper of argument.

Well, we were wrong. Here's Vincent Smith, the senior director for competition at the OFT:

“UK consumers spend some £360 million a year in independent bookstores and appear to do so largely because they value the fact that retailers stock a range of backlist and mid-list titles and offer specialist advice and service . . . Book wholesalers are the only cost-effective way for independent retailers to obtain the repeated, swift supply of small numbers of back-list and mid-list titles — rather than best-sellers — from multiple publishers. This is key to the quality and reliability of service that independent booksellers can provide.”

Couldn't have put it better myself. There's still hope. Full story here.

Monday, April 02, 2007

The Summer of Katya by Trevanian

I love it when I discover a writer I've never heard of and they turn out to be brilliant.

It happens with regularity as no matter how well-read you think you are there are many lifetimes worth of great books out there to be discovered.

Trevanian wrote under several different names. He wrote fiction and non-fiction. A small, new and exciting publisher called Old Street Publishing are on a mission to bring his writing back to our attention.

At first I found The Summer of Katya a little annoying. The action seemed to move slowly and although there were many dark hints as to what might be to come it all seemed to be taking a long time. But there comes a point in the book where everything comes together and the action explodes. The fact it has taken a while to get going ceases to matter. In fact it could be persuasively argued that this gradual ratcheting up of tension was all part of the plan...

Anyway, it's out in June with more to follow later in the year.

Great stuff, thanks Old Street!