Part of my job is to welcome and talk to various school groups when they visit and as part of World Book Day 2018 Corporation Road School was invited down to visit us over a 9 day period, every class getting the opportunity to visit the shop, have something read to them and then chat about aspects of the bookseller trade.
Every class was so well-mannered, well-behaved and excited, showing great interest in the shop and the world of books.
Once class, Class 13, were well prepared and brought down a ream of questions on Post-It notes (as you can see in the photo), unfortunately I only had a limited amount of time to answer these, but I did promise to answer them all when I got the chance.
- Have you cried while reading?
I have often cried while reading as reading can transport you to a world where it is your own emotions and imagination that populates it. I practically always cry when children and animals are having a hard time.
The most recent example if a book called ‘Pax’ by Sara Pennypacker. Where, after rearing a fox cub since it was young, Peter is told by his father that he has to let Pax go back to the wild as a war is coming.
The whole first chapter is told from Pax’s point of view where he doesn’t understand the game that is being played and can sense difference in Peter but still goes along and ends with Peter being driven away whilst Pax is abandoned in an unknown wood.
Floods of tears later and a quick check to the end of the book to make sure everything worked out OK I continued reading (everything ends right).
- Do you sell Kung Fu, DanTDM, Fortnite and Minecraft books?
We often keep popular culture books in stock, DanTDM and Minecraft being a couple of these. Sometimes books are in for a while and then get returned to the central warehouse for various reasons and the Kung Fu book is an example of this, the day before Class 13 arrived it was shipped back in what is called a ‘return’.
Some, especially gaming books and other licensed products are harder to come by as the licensee often limits the area of sale, or places that can sell it and Fortnite is one of these as I think we can order it but it is more of a book to find in a gaming shop.
- How do you look after books?
We have to be very careful around large concentrations of books as they are all wanting your attention and can get very unruly, that’s why we have gentle music playing most of the time and try for soft lighting.
And whatever you do don’t get them wet or feed them after midnight.
- How many books are there?
This is a really hard question but some people have made estimates, the latest one that I could find was from 2010 where the estimate was 129,864,880 individual titles, but that was eight years ago so I would assume that it is much more than that now.
- Do you have books about the World Wars?
Yes we do, we have a small selection in the children’s non-fiction area but upstairs we have quite a lot in our history section, and so we go to the next question;
- Do you have history books?
Again we have a selection in children’s non-fiction and there is a large area of history books upstairs near the cafe.
- How long have you been a bookseller?
About a year and a half. (ed. now over seven)
- What made you want to become a bookseller?
It has always been a wistful dream to own my own bookshop/cafe as I love food and books and to combine them would be wonderful, so working in a bookshop helping people find books to love and inspire them is the next best thing and is great fun when I get into one of my spiels about books.
- Who’s your favourite author?
This is always a very hard one as I like so many different authors for so many different reasons but I suppose it would have to be William Gibson who write near-future science fiction, he coined the term ‘Cyberpunk’ and his Sprawl trilogy is one of my most re-read series of books.
- What type of books do you like?
I really like science fiction and fantasy, but this can be anything from the classics, e.g. Tolkien, Asimov to newer children’s authors such as Abi Elphinstone and Celine Kiernan.
Though I will read most genres of books as I love reading.
- Have you ever written a book before?
I’ve written short stories and poetry before, and coincidentally have started planning a novel just a couple of days before the class came to see us.
I’m currently fleshing out the idea I had and asking a lot of questions which will help build the world of the characters.
So keep an eye out and you may see a book by me on the shelves in the future.
(edit. I’ve actually been commissioned to write for Skittledog an imprint of Thames & Hudson and it should be out next year, 2024)
- Who inspired you to read books?
I think it may have been my Nana who always had books around and encouraged us to be readers, but at my primary school I remember a Miss Lawson who let me read at my pace and never criticised or edited my choice of reading material but ensured that I could comprehend what I was reading by keeping up with me.
- How many books have you read?
This is a pure guess but I average 50 books a year (some more, some less but that’s what averages are about) and that has been for as long as I remember so would probably guess at 2500 or so.
- How long have you been reading books?
I remember being about three and a half and standing up at Christmas doing a ‘turn’ (where people showed off special skills to the family) and I was reading from the newspaper, I remember buying my own copy of ‘The Hobbit’ at five, so probably for 54 yearsish.
- What’s your favourite book?
Another hard one, but I think the book I’ve had to buy most of since I wear it out the most is ‘Good Omens’ by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. It is such a hilarious book about the anti-Christ and the Apocalypse.
It’s also the book that if I have reading block always gets me back into reading.
I hope these answer your questions sufficiently and hope to see you all soon 🙂
I’m really looking forward to doing something like this again at the my new branch in Middlebrough.