The Open Book – days 9 and 10

Walking, window-dressing and working hard

Cally Forest Walk
Cally Forest Walk

Yesterday was a lovely sunny day. It was very quiet in the shop so we closed a bit earlier than normal and went for a walk in the Cally forest at gatehouse of Fleet. There were buds on the trees, swathes of snowdrops and the birds were in good voice. Maybe, just maybe spring is on its way. Again we were impressed by how lovely this part of Scotland is and we thoroughly enjoyed our time in the fresh air. We rounded off our time out with a glass of ale at the Masonic Arms hotel and returned to the flat feeling much better for our time outdoors.

Today it was back to work and it was a longer day in the shop to make up for yesterday’s early close. Iain began by giving the place a good hoover. It’s amazing how grubby the shop floor gets in a couple days! Then he set about moving the fiction paperback books around so that they’re all in the same section of the shop. In order to do that, he first of all had to move crime fiction and in order to do that sci-fi had to come down  couple of shelves. However, despite it being a big task he has made good progress today.

Shop Window of Scottish Books
Shop Window of Scottish Books

Meanwhile, I have done another window display. Different window this time and I decided on a Wigtown and Scottish theme. I’m quietly proud of how it looks. I plan to do the third and final window on Friday, when Iain should be out of the way with his paperback reorganisation.

I also did a new table display and chose the theme of Birds. The shop has a large assortment of bird books, so I thought it would be a good idea to showcase a few of them.

I finished up by going round all the shelves, just straightening and pulling books to the front and generally tidying up.

In amongst all this there were customers to serve – the bit we like best. There was a fairly steady flow of people today. Again several of them took the time to chat and were interested to hear about the project. And Jayne from the writers group also came in to interview me about my writing for a piece on her blog.

So all in all another busy but productive day at the Open Book.

And in a PS to the sanctuary story of two days ago, ‘our’ gentleman came in to say thank you and to confirm that his operation had gone well. So that was nice.  

 

 

 

A Look Back at Week One in the Open Book

 

Wigtown Writers, Conviviality and Making New Friends

'Our' bookshop
‘Our’ bookshop

Iain and I had the pleasure of hosting the fortnightly meeting of Wigtown’s newest writers’ group on Wednesday evening in our flat above the shop.

This was a small  but diverse group of writers – both genders and all ages – and included writers of poetry, short stories, non-fiction, fiction and children’s books. The meeting was convivial and was a really good chance to meet other writers and to share our experiences of the art and craft of writing and of publishing – and in the case of one brave member to share a work-in-progress and receive feedback.

One of the group, Sarah, and I discovered a common interest in the Middle East. My second novel, Displacement is partly set in Israel and it’s a country both Sarah and I have links with and have visited many times. Sarah and I went out to lunch on Thursday and spent over an hour sharing our thoughts on and experiences of this beautiful but conflicted country.

Then yesterday evening Iain and I were invited to Sarah’s for dinner. And over a delicious chicken casserole the three of us shared a lot of our life experiences and anecdotes and cemented the foundations to what we all hope will become an ongoing friendship.

And that’s one of the best things about taking part in the Open Book Project – meeting people – both the locals who have stopped by to say hallo, and the shopkeepers and cafe owners who have made us so welcome, along with visitors to Wigtown who’ve come into the shop to browse and buy. We’ve shared the nature of our role in the shop and how the project works with many of our customers and all of them have said what a great idea it is.

Today’s been our busiest so far. We’ve sold six books and a postcard and enjoyed a good blether with all twenty (so far) visitors to the shop.

Tomorrow is a day off for us and we’ll go and explore more of this beautiful area. See you on Monday!

 

 

 

A Serious Collector and a Spooky Kettle

 

Days two and three at the Open Bookshop

'Our' bookshop
‘Our’ bookshop

We had quite an assortment of people in the shop yesterday, some customers, a man from the local council and someone wanting to sell books to the shop.

The man from the council had lots of questions to ask about the shop and flat and rather flummoxed by the notion that we aren’t the owners of either. When he got his head round this fact, having been even more flummoxed by my explanation of who we were and why we were in the shop and flat, he left to pursue his enquiries elsewhere.

We caused further consternation when we had to tell the prospective seller of books that we didn’t have the authority to buy his books from him, but he seemed happy enough to go and ask the people with the authority after we pointed him in their direction.

We had one very serious book collector in – serious in the sense of his passion for collecting old books, not in his demeanour, he was actually very nice and friendly. He made a serious purchase including four beautifully illustrated volumes on wildflowers.

Another very charming gentleman came in looking for books on the history of the local railway, but alas there are no such volumes in the shop. However, we did have a pleasant chat about trains and railways in general. He even declared himself a fan of the new but somewhat controversial Edinburgh trams. He said he just loves anything that runs on rails. I do hope he will find the books he was looking for.

It was another very cold day but we gave each other time off to go out and explore the town a bit. We both headed for the harbour and wildfowl reserve, but it wasn’t a day to linger outside. After closing the shop we went to one of the local pubs for a pre-dinner drink. I did enjoy my whisky sitting by a lovely, warming log fire.

Today I continued with the sorting out of the children’s fiction section. I would never have thought that sorting books could be so tiring but it’s hard work. However, it’s also satisfying and more day should do it. I’ve almost finished sorting the books into age-appropriate sections and one lady who came in was very complimentary on the new layout. This gave me a warm and happy feeling 🙂

My first ever attempt at window-dressing
My first ever attempt at window-dressing

I have also done a children’s book window display. It’s for very young children – well more their parents actually – with suggestions for bedtime stories. It looks okay to my unartistic eye.

This evening we are hosting the monthly meeting of a local writers’ group at the flat and I’m looking forward to meeting them and joining in with their meeting. I’ll report on how it goes in my next post.

And I can’t leave without telling you the story of the spooky kettle. The kettle in the flat is the weirdest piece of kitchen equipment I’ve ever come across. Sometimes it will allow you to switch it on, other times it won’t. But if you get cross and decide to put a pan of water on the hob to heat instead, it immediately works. In fact now all we have to do when it’s playing up is put the ring on, on the hob, no pan of water necessary, and then press its button and voila, it works.

 

 

 

 

Day One at the Open Bookshop

interior of the 'Open Book'
interior of the ‘Open Book’

It’s day one for the husband and me in our fortnight as booksellers-in-residence at the Open Book in Wigtown. I blogged about the background to our involvement in this project here. The shop is well-stocked and has an eclectic selection of second-hand books. Outside, it’s been a bitterly cold day with snow flurries, but the shop is cosy. We had four visitors to the shop this morning and then while I nipped up to the flat for a bit of lunch, the husband had six more people come in and he made a sale.

As I write this just after 4p.m. we’ve had a total of thirteen people in for a browse. One lady  – an artist – was looking for hardbacks with no pictures or photos and with page edges in good condition. The subject matter wasn’t important. This was an intriguing brief! It turned out she does paper-folding using old books. She didn’t have much time to browse, so I said I’d pick some out for her and to come back when she has more time. There’s now a small bundle awaiting her inspection.

Sci-fi section all sorted
Sci-fi section all sorted

Husband has done a tidy up of the science-fiction section and I’ve made a start on the children’s section, but it’s going to take a few days I reckon to get it a bit more child-friendly.

Children's section is a work in progress...
Husband Children’s section is a work in progress…

So a fairly busy and productive start.