Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Foyled at last!

If you are wondering why I haven't posted for a few days, it is because Coran and I have just got back from a lovely long weekend in Glastonbury. We tend to get two reactions when we tell people we are going there - either the eyes glaze over, or people ask us if we are going to the music festival - in November - I don't think so!

During the 10 or so years that I have been visiting the town though, I have observed it gradually becoming more and more commercialised. Apart from the book shops, and the Goddess shop - The Goddess and the Green Man, everything seems to be the same. Crystals, new age velvety type clothes, incense, candles, trinket boxes, cards, the same old stuff with nothing really all that new or innovative. Sometimes the new age doesn't then seem so new after all. Even the cafes all tend to do the same old stuff - garlic bread with salad, burger with chips, nut roast with all the trimmings (I suppose it makes a change from a plate of vegetables though, minus the meat).

I had been sort of toying with the idea of going to the annual Questing Conference which was held this year the town's Assembly Rooms - a venue which was far too small for an event of this size and calibre. Normally when it is held in London, the conference attracts up to 50o people, but the Assembly Rooms struggle to accommodate 200. I doubt very much then that I would have been able to get a ticket on the door anyway. One of the ladies who was also staying at the Chalice Well Lodge was called Lynne, and she went along having bought her ticket in advance, and said that as interesting as the talks were, by the end of the first day (it went on from 10am to 8pm) she was flagging. I am not surprised. I feel sorry for the last few speakers of the day, who would not have had much of an audience, especially with all the fireworks going off outside.

Coran and I wandered in on Sunday afternoon, after our nut roast in the Cafe Galatea to have a look at the stalls. I had a stall myself at last years conference near Regents Park for which I paid the princely sum of £90 (they must have seen me coming). I made quite a large loss then on the day. The stalls for this year were cheaper at £50 for the 2 days (10am to 8pm on Saturday and 10am - 4pm on Sunday). Even so, I am still not convinced that I would have covered that cost,
not to mention the cost of accommodation and petrol to get down there.

There was the usual array of stalls though selling books by the various speakers and jewellery etc, but there was also a stall from an extraordinary talented lady Gothic artist named Anne Sudworth. Anne is famed for her Gothic fantasy artwork with moonlit night time scenes of trees and strange creatures. She looks quite fearsome with her black hair entwined with white beads and thick make up - so many layers of mascara and at least four shades of lipstick. What a lovely lady though she is and so different to the outer persona - very softly spoken and almost gentle, yet a strong business woman at the same time. Coran bought a copy of her latest book which she gladly signed and we exchanged business cards as well. If I had had the money and somewhere to hang it, I would have loved to have bought one of her prints - the originals she told us sell for up to £1800. Fantastic work that you have to see for yourself and a very talented and beautiful lady with the most extraordinary energy.

One of the other reasons though for going was of course to visit the book shops in town - Growing Needs are already stocking me I discovered, as I emailed them some time ago. It looks as if the Chalice Well book shop will be ordering as well today, since they do deal with Gardners, and Labyrinth Books will too, as soon as they can open an account. They would have bought direct from me had I been able to offer them the 35 percent discount that they needed - the most I can go to though is 30 percent before it becomes unviable - I would be making less than £2 a copy and could still end up having to pay for return postage if they books didn't sell. Gothic Image were also given information and will be receiving a follow up phone call some time later this week.

A few things seem to have happened then in the book trade these last few days. The big news I suppose is that it looks like this will be Richard and Judy's last season with their morning show. They are though talking about a move to Channel Four instead, so all is not lost. Hopefully the same will be said for Simon Key and Tim West, two ex colleagues from Waterstones in Wood Green, who following the stores closure in August are about to open their own independent book store just up the road, also in Wood Green. They are asking for publishers to get in touch with suggestions for back list titles that they can stock, since they know that this is the largest share of the market - I will have to have a look than at the genres that they are seeking, and if one of them is mine, I will get in touch, and suggest that Richard does the same. It may be a possible venue for the book club that he mentioned at the recent anniversary dinner.

Looking at Grumpy Old Bookman though today, I noticed some comments that he had posted last week (Thursday) which I must have somehow missed, about Foyles, the oldest independent book seller in London. This takes the form of some comments made to the wife of one of his regular readers, who contacted them with some suggestions as to how to improve their website. The reply that she received is breathtaking in its arrogance, and I can't wait to contact their book buyer later on today to follow up that email I sent some time ago .... In particular this lady asked them why they do not encourage bloggers and authors to set up links to Foyles website rather than amazon. They said:

"Many of the links to Amazon do come from small self-published and independent works, and as a small business we often do not have the capacity to process orders for such titles. Many small publishers or self-published authors require payment for multiple copies of books or payment by cheque before they release orders. Amazon can afford to keep reserves of these small titles in their large warehouse if ordering multiples, whereas we do not have this capacity. These are authors who need us, rather than vice versa, and thus offer these links free."

These authors need us more than we need them! Hang on a minute - if it wasn't for us writing our books then they would have nothing to sell in the first place. They act as if they are the only book seller in the country, when they are a comparatively small fish. While it would be nice to be stocked by them, I certainly won't lose sleep if I don't manage it, but they might lose valuable long term back list sales .... I think they are very wrong indeed then to say this.

As for notion that we are awkward as we demand payment for our books up front, well it just shows how little they know about the industry the are working in. For one thing, amazon do not have a warehouse of their own, all their titles are obtained from wholesalers in the same way that book stores get theirs - you do not supply amazon then direct and as usual this person is talking out of the thing that he (only a man would be so stupid as to say this!) sits on! Why the hell though shouldn't we expect to be paid before we release titles to them that we have written. I can just imagine going into one of their stores and saying I will pay you for this book in three months time after I have decided whether I like it, no it wouldn't wash. Yo would be arrested for shop lifting. This just then goes to show just breathtakingly arrogant these people are and exactly what people like me and my friend Tracy Saunders are up against every day.

The comments though speak for themselves, enough said ....

No comments: