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Cathryn

Could you all help me?

Think about your favourite bookshop and then can you tell me what makes it your favourite?

For now, don't include the online ones and can you also keep in mind that although it might be your favourite is it the one where you spend the most money on books?

I manage a small Oxfam bookshop and I want to give it a bit of a rearrange so that I can make as much money as possible.

Thanks!
earthyvirgo

Mine is the small bookshop in Llangollen, for the following reasons:

1. They take National Book Tokens
2. They specialise in 'Arty', craft, cookery and local history books.
3. I like to try and buy books from somewhere other than Amazon.

And yes, it is probably the one where I spend most money on books.

EV
Luath

Current favourite is the Oxfam (mainly books) bookshop in Sherborne. Extremely well organised, realistically priced, comfy seat if you want it (right beside my favourite shelves), lovely staff who don't mind you being in there for ages, nice cabinet with special books locked away but you can still see them well, light and bright and cheerful.

Although frantically trying to avoid book buying for now, this is where I've recently spent most money on books. I avoid the chains, and de-activated my Amazon account a while ago now.
Cathryn

Great, thank you both. It's the order/organisation that's bugging me. It's too random.

It's too small for big comfy chairs but I'd like to find small comfy ones (for no money! )
Luath

Only one wee comfy seat, wee bucket chair type, but I can fit my well-read a*se in it Laughing The shop is just organised along traditional lines, in sections such as natural history, British history, travel and so on. books are all clean and neat and tidy, shop is immaculate too. Not a large shop, but I love it Smile
earthyvirgo

Great, thank you both. It's the order/organisation that's bugging me. It's too random.

It's too small for big comfy chairs but I'd like to find small comfy ones (for no money! )


What about a couple of folding chairs with a nice cushion offered if someone wants a bit of comfort?

EV
Chez

I like the one on the steps just down from the monastery shop in Tenby. It's categorised roughly in piles, turning round is a major operation and you have to really ferret stuff out. But it's like mining for treasure and I love it.
marigold

Locally I like Badgers Books because it's a proper secondhand bookshop with lots of little rooms crammed with interesting books and it smells like a secondhand bookshop should Smile There are books piled on the floor as well as in the shelves and you can often find interesting vintage paperbacks in the £1 boxes outside. The owners are friendly and knowledgeable. I'll be gutted when they retire and I should spend more money there. (Google badgers books worthing for pics)

I used to like Borders in Brighton because it had subject bays with seating you could loll about on whilst flicking through the extensive choice of books and nobody ever hassled you. It also had a cafe, toilets and a selection of unusual periodicals. Last time I went there it seemed to have a lot less varied stock than when it first opened and felt less relaxed.

I rarely buy anything in the local Oxfam bookshops because of their piss-taking prices and slightly snooty staff.
cir3ngirl

Octavia's Children's book shop in Cirencester. She know her market and holds book clubs for all ages of children. I go in and say I want a book for Wes and she know just what he likes. She has regular books signings the best being Robert Muchamore. There are large cushions and seats to sit and look at books. She will order in any books she dosent have in stock.
frewen

I like Greyfriars bookshop in Colchester.

It smells divine, it's cosy, and I feel like the rest of the world doesn't exist when I'm cocooned in there. The staff are so lovely as well and leave you unless you want to chat Cool
sean

Our bookshop's closed. Crying or Very sad The people who took the site over still stock maps and local history stuff and will order other things but you can't browse.
Blackwells on Oxford is my favourite bookshop ever. Dunno what it's like nowadays though.
Foyle's was always utterly carp. Like shopping in soviet era East Germany.
Nick

It still goes on for miles, under the road.
sean

A member of staff there found me a surgery textbook when I didn't know the title, authors or publisher, just what shape and colour it was. Then told me that he didn't normally work in that department.
Nick

He wouldn't have been able to tie his shoelaces, but, yes, I'm not surprised.
Cathryn

I've spent years not going into bookshops, then when ours closed I started going back. I'm loving it.

I remember being asked for books like that and finding them. Smile

It's a bit different with donations as you're not placing the orders nor necessarily keeping in touch with publishing.

The antiquarian side is great though.
madcat

I think the books in our Oxfam bookshop are too expensive and I never go in it.
We have a shop in the precinct by the cathedral where the books are free, it's a weird selection with lots of older and tatty books but it's still great. I take the occasional book in there too but mostly I keep or pass books on.
To be honest I mail order most new books which are always text books. Fiction is from the library or our free library at the boat moorings.
Jamanda

The point of Oxfam is to raise money for people in dire need, not to provide cheap books.

Anyway, it's hard to know what to do in the little space you have Cathryn. Walter Henry's bookshop in Bideford is nice with out being much bigger. It's got lots of nice wood and tiles. You can't see much from their website though.

http://www.hive.co.uk/shop/bideford/walter-henrys-bookshop/
earthyvirgo

I know you're asking about the interior, but I'm trying to remember what the window display is like Cathryn.

If you can get people through the door, you're half way there.

Something that'll make people smile ...

I've got some photos of gallery window displays somewhere (I'm thinking of entering Mostyn Gallery's Christmas window comp next ...errr, this year) - I'll see if I can dig them out.

EV
sean

I know you're asking about the interior, but I'm trying to remember what the window display is like Cathryn.


Your shop should be your window display* then. Keep the height of the display low so that people can see over it from outside.


*Retailing cliche number 845. Good advice though, especially if it's a small shop window/frontage.
earthyvirgo

I know you're asking about the interior, but I'm trying to remember what the window display is like Cathryn.

Your shop should be your window display* then. Keep the height of the display low so that people can see over it from outside.


*Retailing cliche number 845. Good advice though, especially if it's a small shop.

...or see through it

EV
Rob R

The point of Oxfam is to raise money for people in dire need, not to provide cheap books.

Indeed, but it's a valid point - if the customers only goal was to support people in need they'd just donate their cash. Putting the price of goods up doesn't necessarily mean you'll make more money out of them.

My favourite bookshop, which I rarely visit now because it was close to college, drew me in because it has a decent range of interesting and quite cheap books, that wouldn't be of much interest to everyone, upstairs. I always knew I'd be able to find something up there, in th quiet part of the shop. The mainstream bookfodder was downstairs, opposite the door.
Bebo

Foyles as it was 20 years ago.

Books floor to ceiling in every corner of a strangely laid out building so that every time you went you found a bit that you hadn't noticed before. widest selection of books ever, with some stuff that you just couldn't get anywhere else without ordering in advance. Great for engineering text books. Best range of sci-fi and fantasy books I've seen anywhere. Smelt of dust. I loved the place.

It's still a great bookshop now and probably does much better as its easier to find stuff and they've simplified how you buy things. The way it was will always have a place in my heart though.
marigold

The point of Oxfam is to raise money for people in dire need, not to provide cheap books.

Indeed, but it's a valid point - if the customers only goal was to support people in need they'd just donate their cash. Putting the price of goods up doesn't necessarily mean you'll make more money out of them.



There are plenty of skint people in dire need of an education in this country and being able to buy cheap second-hand books is an important part of self-education. Yes, you can borrow from the library, but having decent books in the home should be possible for anyone.

As the books are donated and the bookshops are manned by volunteers there's really no need to charge the same as one would pay for the same book from a dealer. Charities can still make money and leave a bit of wiggle room for dealers and the general public to find a real bargain. If a book is priced much the same in Badgers or Oxfam, I'd buy from Badgers who have to cover all sorts of costs Oxfam don't.
Nick

So, dancing chickens are bad but retail badgers are fine? Wink Behemoth

Oxfam books in headingley. Categorised by genre. Music of all sorts played. MornieG

The point of Oxfam is to raise money for people in dire need, not to provide cheap books.

Indeed, but it's a valid point - if the customers only goal was to support people in need they'd just donate their cash. Putting the price of goods up doesn't necessarily mean you'll make more money out of them.



There are plenty of skint people in dire need of an education in this country and being able to buy cheap second-hand books is an important part of self-education. Yes, you can borrow from the library, but having decent books in the home should be possible for anyone.

As the books are donated and the bookshops are manned by volunteers there's really no need to charge the same as one would pay for the same book from a dealer. Charities can still make money and leave a bit of wiggle room for dealers and the general public to find a real bargain. If a book is priced much the same in Badgers or Oxfam, I'd buy from Badgers who have to cover all sorts of costs Oxfam don't.

I help manage a Charity Shop and the managers are paid as there has to be someone to take responsibility even if it's just a little above minimum wage as in our case. We still have leases, services, waste removal and other costs which are not reduced just because we are a charity.

Our paperbacks are £1, childrens books generally 25-75p with hardbacks and reference books from £2. If we get vintage, first editions or signed copies we do check the prices with dealers and on line then put them out for a little less than the lowest price. If we don't make money we can't help disadvantaged people back into work.

I won't shop in Oxfam so I don't have an opinion on the price of their books. I do though buy all my books with a few exceptions from Charity and second hand shops. If I went into a bookshop I would go for the used books first. What about a book exchange ? If a customer buys a book from you they have the opportunity to bring it back when they have finished with it and you could give vouchers for say 1/3rd of the purchase price, depending on condition etc, for them to purchase again from you. You can of course refuse to buy it back if it's unsaleable.

Mo.XX
Cathryn

Thanks for your all your comments, they are very helpful. gregotyn

I used to go into a book shop in Honiton in Devon a few years back when I was with a 'girl' that way It was a typical book shop with thousands of books along little winding alleyways which I loved, I'm not sure if it is still going-with girl no more! I seem to remember they did a bit with antiques as well. I don't think it was a comfort loving shop, but the owner seemed to know what was in there and where it was. gil

Goodness ! My favourite in Carlisle turns out to be a substantial internet bookseller (I think).
http://www.abebooks.com/bookcase-carlisle/461831/sf
Is also called Bookends.
It has a massive classical vinyl section in the basement, and sheet music.
I love browsing in there, but find it expensive.

However, when I do buy books, I confess to being a horrible person who buys from Amazon because it's cheap and I am skint.
And the local library is ummm...., and the charity shops are full of potboilers/airport novels/Barbara Cartland for the ladies and Dick Francis for the chaps.
marigold

gil, you can get any book in the county library on request which should give more choice. IIRC you are in Dumfries and Galloway http://www.dumgal.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=1391 so the charge is 75p, but it's still cheaper than buying Smile

I do all my requests online and they are delivered to whichever branch I choose, with the default being my "home" branch. Books can even be sent out on the mobile libraries in some ares.
Luath

By the by, here in Dorset if you request a book online and ask for it to be delivered via the mobile library there is no charge at all. derbyshiredowser

Scarthin books at Cromford exceptionally cramped but the sort of place you can spend all day in, very funny notes pinned to the book shelves

http://www.scarthinbooks.com/
Cathryn

I have just spent the afternoon with a group of volunteers rearranging the bookshop. Nothing major although I would love some new display stuff because Oxfam keeps it's admin costs down to 15% and we are a part of making sure that it stays that low.

I live and work locally for Oxfam. We take donations of books, music, lots of interesting things, a high proportion of which are donated by people to Oxfam because they believe in the work that Oxfam does across the world. I have a duty to them to sell their donated items for a reasonable sum. I have a duty to the people that Oxfam help to make as much as I can from these goods. Oxfam has a minimum pricing policy and then it is up to me as the manager to set what I consider a reasonable price. As I said, I live locally, I have a background in bookselling so I know what I'm doing (mostly) and I know my market. Over the last year both sales and donations have increased, if they had fallen I would think again.

I have a good financially useful relationship with the second hand bookshop in town and with several other dealers over quite a wide area.

I am the only paid member of staff. I work with volunteers of all kinds, some need to add layers to their cv. I make sure they can add useful skills. Everyone is encouraged to do as much as they can in the shop and there are virtually no exceptions to this.

The work we do in the shop supports me and a great many other individuals across the world. This is measurable in a rough kind of way. I did a sum as a way of thanking the volunteers for their work that covered just three months. It's a bit rough and ready but you can get the gist of it.

"Once upon a time…

…fifty families were just about hanging on, scratching a living from an arid bit of land…and then you all came along, Oxfam volunteers, sorting, pricing, selling all the books and music. Turning all the great donations into money! (Thank you all you wonderful donors!)
Thanks to you giving your time you provided :

Safe water for all five hundred people - £500
Each family planted an allotment - £1200
Their farming skills were improved and the village now has:
Twenty goats - £500
Ten sheep - £250
Lots of chickens - £200
Two people even trained to be beekeepers - £25
You provided the village with green energy three solar panels
- £100
All the children in the village had a health check - £2400
and mosquito nets were provided for them all - £2800
Then you trained four teachers - £108
Provided school kits for two hundred children - £1600
You sorted out a clean water supply and explained the importance of health and hygiene for their wonderful school - £1,670

And there was still £1000 spare! That built 25 emergency toilets for the Philippines or if you want to look at it another way you helped set up 25 cocoa farmers and 25 tea growers that now nearly manage to provide the shop with our tea and biscuits!

And that’s just in three months! You’re amazing, thank you!"
Nick

25 tea growers to support one shop?

You drink far too much tea.

Ps, yes, there is such a thing as too many cups of tea.
Pps. Well done.
sean

Good going. How do you feel about work experience school kids? Cathryn

I love having school kids there. They're great fun. Most of them are incredibly bright and come up with some great ideas. They are also used to being told what to do. Not a luxury I can use with some other volunteers. Wink Mistress Rose

Sounds like you are doing good work. Nice when you can see a result from your labours. madcat

Well done all. gregotyn

I am very impressed, I always thought of Oxfam as being a top heavy organisation. I appear to be wrong, and will give next time round in Sainsbury's foyer! Cathryn

That is a really nice thing to say and has cheered me up no end, thank you. dpack

a good selection of obscure /academic /rare books will make me spend and revisit

if these are well selected a few shelves of "goodies" will attract trade with cash

the huddersfield oxfam books might have some helpful advice
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