Sunday, 27 October 2013

Indie bookselling in Sheffield, a guest post by Eve Risner

"Over two years ago I got together with a small group of women and we decided to 'open a cafe/bookshop' in Sheffield city centre! Six months later the red tape and crazy rent and rates had defeated us but I remained focussed and determined to find an alternative way of becoming an independent bookseller in Sheffield.
"Having tested public reaction at local markets (and finding it very enthusiastic) I took on a small unit within a 'shopping emporium' called Birds Yard in Sheffield city centre. This was a way for local businesses to sell their products without the massive overheads of a shop. Birds Yard opened in December 2012 and is still going strong - although the future is not secure.
"My 'product' is the non-mainstream book - beautifully illustrated editions, many hardbacks but at an affordable price - books to cherish, books you wouldn't know you wanted until you saw them on my shelves.
"Since opening at Birds Yard I have also rented a small unit at the Nichols Building in Sheffield. The Nichols building sells largely vintage furniture, artifacts and clothing - as well as my new books, I don't generally sell children's books.
"I have also expanded to Handpicked Hall (no relation) Leeds - another centre for independent businesses to 'get started' and to test out whether there is a market for their product.
'Handpicking' the books is what I enjoy most and seeing people's pleasure on discovering books that they may not have found themselves."
You can find Handpicked Books at
The picture below is from Handpicked, one of several books by the Nottingham writer Dorothy Whipple, published by Persophone. I want those bookends...

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Twelve questions about the bookshop

Answering the twelve most asked questions about the bookshop (and reprinting the logo)
1) When will it open?
November 9th and, thereafter, 10-5.30, six days a week.
2) What will it stock?
New books, not second-hand, with an emphasis on landscape/cityscape, politics, fiction and poetry, lesbian and gay, weird and wonderful, psychology. Magazines and journals. Specialising in independent publishers.
3) Will it be radical?
Don't you know me?
4) Will it only be radical?
Well, the landlord will want rent, the staff will want paid, so no. But no Jamie. No celeb biogs.
5) Can I be one of those staff?
Sorry, we are fully staffed already.
6) I've looked on Long Row and can't find it. Is it the alleyway with the public toilets?
No, that's Greyhound Street. Head towards Primark, our alleyway is between these two landmarks. There will be signage.
7) Will you stock children's books?
Some. To see if there is interest, but primarily it will be a bookshop with adult stock (no, not that sort of adult stock).
8) How big is it?
400 square feet plus office and storeroom. Not huge, but big enough to start with.
9) Is this just a vehicle for the books published by Five Leaves?
No. They will be there but the stock will be much wider.
10) Cafe?
Too small. Too many problems with food hygiene certificates. But if there is somewhere we can have a serve-yourself percolator we'll do it. Maybe even a dry biscuit.
11) Will it stock my book?
Ah. If we think we can sell copies and if we know it exists. Email us on BUT we are getting a lot of pitches for self-published novels, which are much harder to sell and we've got to be strong.
12) Will there be events?
Yes. We welcome pitches/suggestions for these. The shop has to be what the trade calls a "destination" bookshop to survive. So there will be events.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Nairn returns

The book will be available very shortly

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Five Leaves Bookshop. No cause for alarm.

Little time to post on the blog the last period... the bookshop has swamped us. Here's a nice story in the local paper - I'd never thought of myself as a businessman before. I'd better join the Rotary and the Chamber of Commerce and buy a tie and a razor. But things are moving along - all staff appointed, computing equipment ordered, half the books already on order, events starting to take shape and it is ages away. One month before we open. Easy peasy. AAARGH - opening time is only a month away! Panic!! Panic!!