Sunday, 13 October 2013

Happy Birthday Books Books Books!

Bookselling and the Art of Happiness

I opened the bookshop on this day 5 years ago. Nervous preparation turned to elation as customers came through the door. It seems so long ago that my memories of that first year have become hazy.

I remember a team of friends assembling the bookshelves. I remember taking an order for 300 francs and thinking I'd hit the big time, and stacking a wall full of books I'd never sell. Skipping lunch to save money, not having the time to read. How things change.

That was 2008. A couple of months later the sterling crashed, and in 2 years the Kindle would become the dominant way people bought stories.

But the bookshop is still here, and every year we sell more and more books.

What do I love? I love the regular customers who I've known since forever. The friends I have made. Sometimes people send me an email for recommending a good book - these I want to stick on the wall. The bookshop attracts characters who make my life interesting.

I enjoy the freedom of determining my own success, and of being close to the heart of a literary community.

It's not all great; sometimes I envy people with stable jobs and healthy pensions. I lie awake at night as well asking myself if I have made the correct decision.

Would I sell the shop? The entrepreneur in me would, in an instant, if the price was right. The bookseller in me wouldn't. It would be interesting to see which side would win if I ever got an offer. I'd be curious to see what I'd do next.

Something cool.

Highs of this year include getting drunk with Colum McCann, reading Stoner, employing Emma, a photo from Politics and Prose, the friends, and those wonderful, wonderful people who order books.

Man, I'm tired. Bring more champagne!

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