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Yule Wrapped

For 25 plus years I ran Pritchard’s in Formby, we were a vital part of the community and were able to be the mainstay of supply of reading to all, things changed, we sadly allowed convenience and misguided choice come along and abolished a Pricing Policy – Industry wide Guide, the ‘Net Book Agreement’ that actually kept us going, yes, it was a bit creaky, but it did work as we knew wherever you sought your book from, it was only there that you bought it, as it cost exactly the same everywhere, it was fair.

We grumbled our 'Profit Margin' was lower than others, but we actually just had to sell what we sold to make it. What tipped us into downturn was both the advent of Amazon moving from being a 2nd hand online bookshop to a vastly aggressive huge discounter and also the schlock and awe of the supermarkets with their 2 for £7, I remember when Hilary Mantel was winning Booker's her £9.99 PBs were two for £7 in Tesco by us, it actually made me feel sick. Pritchard’s managed to win Indie Bookshop of the Year and we were visited by huge names and often more than once, we had 2 super secondaries and 7 fab primaries all of whom used us and we visited with authors, we worked alongside the library and always had writers in and events to enjoy. We helped set up and run an award, Sefton Super Reads and we did radio to promote reading. I blogged about the pesky book shop Elves that ran amok and did the window displays, usually that was super talented Stephen Alty actually, he won the Tolkien Award and had a signed original artwork worth £1000 by Alan Lee. The Elves moved better books to better shelves and swept up and warmed the air. Things were wonderful... After 30 years the lease expired and we closed, I took the leap of faith to open my own Indie, Formby Books, so named because obviously, it served pretty much…

Just Formby and it should have been a beacon. Sadly, though times were too tough and even loyal customers succumbed to online ease and easy deals for the kids, Julia Donaldson and David Walliams mostly, both have huge merit for access and enjoyment but really, why not try the other books we sold? Was it that we only knocked on average 25% off the RRP and struggled that stopped folks? One day I'll load up more archive material, some of it is superb... I just wish I had the time, these days I'm a floating bookseller, I go pretty much anywhere and supplement author/illustrator visits and do talks myself. I've trained as a Storyteller and work with Sally-Anne from purplepenguinpublishing at many libraries and festivals in the NW. So, we come to now... I still supply books, not many, I do school bookstalls and some elsewhere, they are tough, with offering money off we should do really well, we sadly don't...

People are both low on spare cash, sadly...ever more it seems, but also, they buy other things without realising they are not buying enough books, if they were huge library users, that'd be fine…

Sadly, there aren't that many libraries, so I doubt that is the case. It is a sort of vicious Emperor's new clothes of modern culture, more is about the moment of a box set or a celeb TV montage and liked and shared, far less about coming to a Poetry night, a talk about Shakespeare or Viking games, all of which we do.

We became interested in the Vikings, Formby is called the Viking Village, it has an established history dating to 917AD, we think it was 902AD and we are putting a booklet together. We ran a successful Viking Day for the last 7 years bar this one itself with TV historian Mark Olly and Leo my Herjan (Leader) and outreached to Conway, Warrington, Stockport and St Helens...

Always great, but not as well seen and attended as should be... 2020 we hope is a boost as Sefton has Regional Borough of Culture and a little funding... And now we come to you helping, we can post books for free, the site initially has £2.99 as postage, I'll fix that, website management is not my forte, I'd recommend we 'speak/email/message' agree a price, use PayPal to tonythebook@live.co.uk and away we go. I shared some images of signed books on Twitter, I DO list on Amazon, I wish I didn't but the point of the postage is...come and ask here and you save that... We both don't pay it to Amazon! But as so many use it, it was a necessary evil and it does allow some weird old books to get to folks who wouldn't find them otherwise. I'm now compiling a list and I'll save as a PDF or JPEG and load up... obviously PLEASE check I do have any book you want as I ain't gonna have time to keep editing and the shop on here is clunky and ltd to 100 items and takes ages... I would love to see some of you follow me on twitter @tonydoesbooks and I apologise for any rants/politics...that will stop soon I hope! But, I do feel we need to express things and share things to reach others and educate and inform. I try not to swear unlike others. Initially the signed books I currently have are often ones from reviews of events I've posted, they will often be HBs and we usually do them for £10 if they are less than £14.99 RRP and £15 if RRP is £20, with Kids books we do £5 when they are £6.99. With no retail overheads we can discount, ask politely, don’t beg… I have survived for 4 years on virtually no actual income/profit, I seriously struggle to live, I’ve had issues with alcohol abuse when times were really tough in Formby, I gave up and now only drink every so often for real ‘occasions’, I like many have had my mental health moments, I never really understood that until I encountered it first hand, I have woken up unable to see and breathe, I’ve had to go outside for air and felt like crying and not had anyone there to hear me, it was and sometimes still is very, very tough to live. So, I get the not enough money thing, but please accept I offer a fair and honest price and not  a tax dodging con. Simply put... drop me a message and ask for things, I'd love a few shares of reviews etc too, one niggle I have is... I have put 30 plus years into Books and supporting so many, I don't get a huge amount back, if i did, I'd be still running a shop and smiling more! I want 2020 to be a happy year, I've toyed with quitting altogether several times in the last 5 years, in fact for 18 months I did courier work and very few book events... I worked for Hermes, they ain't a messenger of any God I know, it was horrific, their attitudes and methods are quasi Victorian at its zenith of zeal for their cut and your blood. I also did Amazon door to door, they had a really annoying friendliness on the app and by phone, but still treated you like an automaton of customer needs and not anything like a fair and synchronised experience, pay was a bit better though to be fair. It was also noticeable how few public toilets we have access to, I used McDonalds a lot, also coffee is cheap, but then you need to stop for the loo again, but I tried not to use a toilet for free, it felt like I should be a customer… I did see and occasionally I’ll admit do the silly chuck a parcel somewhere stupid, but in all honesty, if folks actually were in for their ordering online, deliver to home then actually it would have worked fine. I’d love the system to be tailored to actual times when we know we are in, but the courier companies wouldn’t pay enough to cover 5-7am shifts for some and 8-10pm shifts for others, delivery to work should help, but few did that and the drop off metal boxes are limited on space and poor newsagents get swamped if they act as a point of collection/delivery, personally I’d rather we went to a pay 20% to the system for NHS when you order anything online from your payment not the retailer, letting the retailer collect the revenue does not work, look at Amazon etc… Convenience is great, but it should come at a fair price for a better society, not a creaming off and laziness.

I didn’t want to rant here, but have done a bit, I do hope you get some of it, if you are a school/teacher we can invoice and deliver/post for free with decent discounts- no overheads…

If you are a person, no matter how small, you should want books that help you be a better person no matter how big, it’s better to use libraries’ when you can, but if the keeping and continuity of repeat reading and sharing is the thing, use us Indies when you can, Waterstones are fine when you are out shopping, but why not start ordering off Indies online and them when out locally, that might work.

 

I often see authors without them thinking sharing their links to Amazon, then saying they don’t earn much and help them, to be blunt, if they didn’t let us use Amazon it would improve, there are those who say the High Street is dead and couldn’t support the demand, they are wrong… IF we reboot and alter the methodology it can work, wherever you live, even remotely you should be able to use REAL people and REAL shops ahead of tax dodging corporates, it may take a little effort, but that is good for you. Places like Coffee Shops could help, run apps that advertise other local traders especially books and music. It also puzzles me with Libraries, they COULD be shared spaces with bookseller’s in… there could be a real symbiosis and it might enable events more.

 

This is a long post, because I felt I hadn’t done any for a good while, it is Christmas and my inner Grinch needs to beat his tiny heart and become part of Whoville where Who knows who lives near me. A few books and authors we do have…

Joanne Harris, JoJo Moyes, Tess Gerritsen, Michael Connelly, Rachel Abbott, Marnie Riches, Mandasue Heller, Diane Setterfield, Roy Lancaster, AJ Hartley, Philip Caveney, Joseph Delaney- we can always do dedications with him and Frank Cottrell Boyce, both are neighbours. Sally-Anne Tapia-Bowes too. Oddments signed inc Ben Miller, Meerkat Christmas, Michael Foreman, Abi Elphinstone and Frances Hardinge… as I said. Ask away. Go on… or look at beyondbooksmedia on Amazon and then ask…