For a few splendid weeks I did my homework. I was a bookseller at Waterstones in my early twenties (rising to the dizzying heights of assistant manager, Ilford, just as all the creativity, individuality and fun that made the chain so special was stripped away for bland corporate identity and central buying) and when my daughter was a baby I worked evenings at Border so I know quite a bit about bookselling and had lots of ideas how to make it work in a world dominated by Amazon and in a city with one of the highest shop rental costs in the country.
I also intended to write whilst running the shop and raising the daughter. Just a little ambitious.
However, as the job market was less robust then we realised and the redundancy money disappeared I had to put the dream to one side, found a new job (as thank goodness did my husband, eventually) and carried on with the writing, the daughter raising and trying to make ends meet with varying success.
One thing my shop would have done, though, is support local authors. When I worked at both Waterstones and at Borders that was something really important to us.We had to strike a balance of course between profit and meeting the high expectations of authors, some of whom thought we would be able to sell out an event to launch their local walking guide with no help from the author himself, and we were very selective when it came to self published books. But local authors? Published by one of the big six? Bring them on! That attitude, sadly, seems to have disappeared.
I barely enter my old employer now. Once it was the proliferation of celebrity autobiographies everywhere, especially at this time of year, now it's the lack of choice. Three for two guaranteed that I would leave swinging a bag with 2 books for me, one I wanted, one I tried because it was 'free' and one for my daughter. And when my local shop isn't stocking either of my friends' books, despite them both being big six published and one of them set here, in this very city, then I don't want to support that shop either.
If anyone wants to invest in a chain of children's bookshops then I am open to offers! Failing that fingers crossed I win the lottery. Because there is room, a need for well stocked bookshops run by passionate, knowledgeable staff in this country. Bookselling is a skill, bookshops and libraries are important and children need space to learn to love books.