Sunday, 31 May 2009

Cost per Review

It's me, I'm a cynical old Hector but is there a correlation between advertising and review coverage? Of course there is. In Yesterday's Guardian, there was a two page interview with Sarah Waters about her new book, 'Little Strangers,' and on the back page there was a massive advert for said book, with quotes from Hilary Mantel and Robert McCrum. It must have cost thousands. Now, this doesn't mean that because you're reviewed you can't have an advert in the paper at the same time but given that the advertsing sheckel is a much sought after coin it does pose the question, that if you had enough money to place an advert in The Guardian, would you also manage to get a two page review? Answers please on a postcard. I'm off to see if the same reviews are in the Sunday papers as were in yesterdays. It's a tiresome game I'm playing, but good for the spleen.Toodlepip!

Saturday, 30 May 2009


Deep in the bowels of Moose HQ are the boys from the shires who run and control Moose R&D and today I announce, after five years of secret development, the WDU. A system that will rival and then surpass all the electronical reading discoveries of the past years. The ebook, Kindle and all such like are redundant. And what is the WDU? It is The Word Dispensing Unit and we are calling it, THE BOOK. It comes in hard and soft format for ease of transportation. I hope it catches on. It is a tenth of the price of its rivals, needs no batteries, wires, screens and is powered by touch. Remarkable.

Friday, 29 May 2009

Twittering sex

I, like Ashton Kuchner, Hollywood actor and celebrity spouse have decided to stop twittering. Well, I'm going to twitter once a day. Perhaps in the morning or last thing at night. I know it's supposed to be the new mode of communication, but Jaysus, does everbody want to know what I had for lunch? I have asked my dearly beloved if she will take part in Twittering sex. The idea was to have sex and twitter at the same time. Tantric twittering can go on for hours and only has one follower, yes , you guessed it, Sting and his missus can twitter for hours before releasing their message. It will be all the rage. However, my good lady wife has declined the offer and pointed me in the direction of a divorce lawyer. Oh well, back to normal life and all its glories.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Front of House.

Amidst all the economic gloom and doom, there are glimmers of light. Yesterday I received a synopsis and the first three chapters. The story is fantastic and it made me laugh like a drain, and a happy one at that. It is receiving great stories like this that makes it all worthwhile. When we started Bluemoose it was for this very reason. To try and get great stories from new writers published. In the email that accompanied the first three chapters was this quote from an agent the author had received about marketing his work. '..we might need to think about the conventions that will make the book more front of house.’ 'More front of house!' What she means is that they won't be able to put the book in the 3 for 2's. Nightmare. When she means 'Conventions,' what she's really saying is that it doesn't follow a generic and formulaic style. Well, good. What a grey world it would be if we all 'followed,' conventions and made everything ,'more front of house.' If this is what agents are thinking then the future for Independents is a good one. Now, I need to speak to booksellers.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Free for Free

Stephen Clayton, author of The art of being dead, visited a reading group in Hebden Bridge yesterday. The ladies who attended were passionate about their reading, inquisitive and asked some great questions about the characters in Steve's book. There was one worrying question from a member of the group who asked why we were giving away books at Hebden Bridge station. This worried me. Bluemoose Books is a business not a charity, and even though I, too, am passionate about books, we're trying to sell as many book as possible in order to publish more great stories from great new writers. It so happens I set up a Bluemoose Library there two months ago, with a selection of our titles which are available to read, free of charge, but once read they are to be put back into the Bluemoose library thus benefiting other passengers. My theory is that her friend hadn't read the notice I'd put up. I know the book selling world is going mad with all its 3 for 2's but even Waterstone's and Smiths haven't decided to throw it all in and give everything away , free. Well, not just yet.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Natural Selection

It has all gone nuclear down at the Oxford Poetry shop. Fingers pointed, huge intakes of breath, academic poison darts fired and Ruth Padell has resigned. I'm going to throw my hat in the poetic ring. No I'm not. More important things to do. But here's my poetic thoughts on the matter.

So, Ruth Padell
You have suffered at the hands
Of unnatural selection.
Your great, great, great
grandfather Charles Darwin
Would have had something to say.
Wouldn't he?

Monday, 25 May 2009

Poetry offsetting

I'm going to start a new industry. Poetry offsetting. It's like its carbon cousin, and it won't save the earth but perhaps by paying someone to read a stanza or two, in Tamil Nehrdu, I won't have to feel guilty about the whole Oxford poetry debacle. Heaven forefend that skulduggery is at foot whilst the world heads to hell in a second hand scappage handcart. No doubt, the Fey at Hay will be crying into their claret, but really, who does give a damn.
More importantly Stephen Clayton, author of The art of being dead is giving a reading at the Organic House cafe tomorrow. No poets please. You're needed elsewhere.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Salt of the earth

'Tis the second day of The Big Green Weekend here in Hebden Bridge. The Pulse Belt has not been inundated, as yet, by juggling unicyclists, but there is time. However, I encountered my first tree on stilts yesterday as I had a coffee with Hetha my wife. Initially I thought I had become a part of some Arts Council street theatre performance of Macbeth, and the woods were approaching. I was wrong. The tree said hello and passed out leaflets about Sustainabilty. The leaflet was printed on recylced youths. I had some disturbing news yesterday about the independent publisher SALT. They publish short stories and poetry and are having a bit of a hard time. If you want original, striking prose or poetry, you can do no better than visit where you'll find some fantastic authors. Buy a book and keep the independent spirit alive.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Moose on Rye

Today is the start of the biggest literary festival in the world. Moose on Rye. All the....only kidding. But the litfest at Hay started yesterday and if there were any literary fundamentalists out there who wanted to eradicate the world of pompous aging male writers of the unreadable, they could make a name for themselves and obliterate the lot. Of course this is merely jesting. All the worlds best put togetherers of words will be there talking and reading and talking and talking.
It was Morrisseys birthday yesterday but I doubt whether he will be celebrating flicking through his gnarled copy of Byronic poems in The Brecon Beacons. He's got better things to do. However, here's a couple of lines from one of the Smith's best songs, 'Some Mothers.'
'As Anthony said to Cleopatra as he opened a crate of ale.'
Now, tell me if there is anyone at The Guardian sponsored Hay on Wye festival that could pen that line. Absolute genius.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Kestrel for a knave.

I read yesterday that one of my favourite authors Barry Hines has been diagnosed with Alzheimers. A Kestrel for a knave had a profound effect on me. Before I read it, all the books I'd read had transported me to different countries, thrown me back in time or into the future, but Kes, as it became known after the brilliant film by Ken Loach, changed my whole perceptions of what a book could do. Books had the ability to change lives. Everyone should read Kes. Alzheimers is a terrible disease. It's like watching a jumper unravel before your eyes. I wish him and his wife all the best in what will be testing times.

Thursday, 21 May 2009


Yesterday I was in conversation with Helen Carter. She is the Northern correspondent for The Guardian and she is based in Manchester. As a seasoned Rippleologist, start the story locally and then watch it spread nationally, my tack is to get Helen all enthused about Bluemoose books and what we're trying to do. Publish brilliant new stories from fantastic new writers. Helen is now reading The art of being dead by Stephen Clayton. She's also doing a story on Carol Anne Duffy and the effect she will have on the North West Region and wanted a quote. I think Carol will be a breath of fresh air and more relevant than previous incumbents. Now I have a problem with some poets, which I've posted here before. Some poets deem themselves the torchbeares of the English Language, which is pants. They remind me of some Jazz musicians who plonk away purely for their own benefit, actions which should be done at home and behind closed doors. If it gives you pleaseure, fantastic, but don't even think of doing it in public. I think I may have also said that Poetry is the curse of the middle classes. In an oral tradition, poetry was extremely important. Now it isn't. I suppose I will now be strung up and asked to recite Ovid backwards in Cibmai Sretematneps. Joy.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Big Green Weekend

Stephen Clayton, author of The art of being dead is giving an interview to the online literary magazine, The View from here. Steve will be talking about his writing, his musical career with Tractor, signing up with John Peel's Dandelion record label and other such things. You can read his interview at . If you are in The Pulse Belt, Hebden Bridge next Tuesday 26th May, Steve will be reading and answering questions at Organic Cafe about his book. Hebden Bridge will be hosting The Big Green Weekend over the next five days. There will be all manner of Green things to do, like walking and talking and stuff that doesn't cost a bean. Men and women will appear from the ether, out of hats and buskers will entertain themselves with all manner of Mimicry. There will be hundreds of Unicycles. Many, many unicycles. The A&E department will be chocker come Sunday with battered and bruised amateur unicyclists. Gravity and endeavour on a single wheel can be calamitous, and often is. It will be very jolly and The Ley Lines will be open form 5.00am in the morning, so transport to and from the town will not be an issue. The local MP, Chris Mccafferty, who refuses to publish her expenses until July, might not be there. She will be busy with her rubber and Tippex. Recycling receipts. It's a green win, win situation.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

The Family Ross

Now, Jonathan Ross is having a book club on his Twitter site. His namesake and relation Amanda Ross is the person behind The Richard and Judy Book Club.Their book club is in abeyance as it were, with the R&J programme ending in a couple of weeks. It is good that Mr Ross is getting behind books with his Wossybookclub, but I do have problems accessing all this techhy stuff. But, if it gets more people reading books, it is a good thing.Yesterday I had problems accessing the internet. My ISP said they were having'interface software issues.' Well, knock me down with a widget.' What they meant to say was they hadn't paid their electricity bill. Now that we are all welded to the internet, when it goes wrong, you can't access anything, the world stops. I was even reduced to using the telephone. How Neandhethal. I called the ISP people and they said 'had I tried to solve the issue by going to www........, Why would I be contacting them by phone if I could access the web? As someone who knows nothing about technical things, talking to techhies is an unpleasant experience. I was eventually passed on to a locquacious Irishman called Liam, who mopped my fevered brow and held my hand as the issue was finally resolved. However, I am changing my broadband provider. And hopefully the problems will stop. I can only hope and pray. Going to lie down with a good book. It's the best therapy I know when encountering the cyber world.

Monday, 18 May 2009


I have been enduring Cyber Flu this morning, with the tinternet coughing up bits and bobs but not responding to anything I do. Moose HQ may have been the target of some unsavoury virus. I think it is the LIt Eds from the weekend broadsheets. They do not like any criticism at all.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Commission the right stuff

Why is it that even after a book has been reviewed in hardback, months later when it changes format into a paperback, it is once again reviewed? Has the book transmografied into a different story because it has changed format? I think not. There was an interesting piece in the Guardian yesterday about the death of literary non fiction and how publishers are bemoaning the onset of Celebrity autobiographies filling up bookshops between October and December. There seems to be some sort of allaince between reviewers and publishers that great works of non fiction that have taken five years to research, write and publish have a divine right to sell. They don't. Obtuse biographies of Oxbridge Dons who may have been witty and pithy within the cloistered walls of their colleges have no relevance in the retail world and will not sell. And when they don't. Don't belittle the great unwashed for their lack of insight into a great work. It never was. The commissioning of an unknown academic from your alma mater is bound to fail. Maurice Bowra may have been a great man at a drinks party, but the public are not interested. Period. I know it palls but get over it, enter the real world and publish books that are relevant, and guess what? They will sell.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Dan Dares

Everyone hates Dan Brown. Stephen Fry calls his writing, 'Stool water.' Why is it when somebody becomes very, very successful they attract such approbrium? His books are a god send to publishing and the book trade. At a time when nobody seems to want to buy anything, here comes a writer with a story to tell and the public buys his book in the millions. There is snobbery in the British Publishing world. Of course you can have your opinion and if you think his writing is not up there with the bard, fair enough, that's valid, but don't be so vitriolic in your condemnation. He's only trying to tell a story. It's fiction. Storytelling. He's not trying to change the world. When we have the Rushdies and Amis's of this world who write awful books but nobody dare say so for fear of not being invited to the next Champers and Peanut party in Hampstead, it smacks of hypocrisy. Publishers spend millions on giving advances to the faded old men of literature, and I bet they don't make a penny on these books. Dan Brown makes zillions for his publisher, admittedly he may not be pushing the boundaries of literature or adding to the literary firmament, but be grateful people will be buying Dan's books, because without him, Martin wouldn't have new teeth and Salman would be wandering the libraries of the North selling his wares from the back of his Morris Minor.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Bono sings the Bible

Bluemoose can announce a world first. Bono, the lead singer in that popular ensemble' U2' will be translating the Bible from it's original Aramaic into Bono. It will be the first translation since the King James Bible translation in the 17 Century. The idea is to make it more accessible to the common man, and what better conduit than he who can save the world, 'Bono.'
The Lords Prayer, will now start, 'Bless me Bono for I have sinned.' A spokesman for God, the archangel Gabrial said that, 'God was very pleased with the new translation.' You will be able to download the translation from the new iGod, available from the Bluemoose website. The charge for downloads is free but a contribution would be expected or divine retribution will be swift. If monies are not forthcoming, Bono's speeches will be piped into your house, car, or office 24 hours a day. Heaven help us.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

A Texan Standoff.

The tinterweb has been playing up this morning and I am sat here with hammer in my left hand. I think it is all to do with Twittering. Or my attempt to gain access to the twitter community. I have far too many passwords in my head and having a small brain there is cyber password overload and I'm firing off the wrong passwords into the Google and twiterspheres. Machines are logical, I am not. Andrew Motion was bemoaning the fate of authors' works being siphened off to the University of Texas at Austin. It seems they pay more then we do. If you'e a skint writer, you're not going to argue. It seems we like pictures more than words. We'll stump up the odd quadzillion for a couple of Titians that were found in the Duke of Sutherlands' downstairs loo at his pad in the Highlands. Ok they've been hanging in a gallery in Scotland. A picture is worth a thousand words. Apparently. I don't think so. Have you seen some abstract art? It's worth two words. They are both Anglo Saxon. And they rhyme with Damian Hirst.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Twitter Ye Not

Stephen Fry still remains an elusive twitter. I've got to Bill Bailey and Eddie Izzard, but the twitter laureate is remaining hands free, so to speak. I've just read that classic novels are to be given the twitter treatment. A novel reduced to 140 characters. I thought that was what the blurb was for. In Hollywood you have to pitch your idea within a sentence. So ALIENS became. Jaws in Space. Hodder decided to reduce my novel, Anthills and Stars, a story of Hippies moving into the Pennines in the late 1960's to, Father Ted meets Chocolat. If the novels are to be twittered then the reviews will be even better and at last reveiwers can use expletives about some of the overblown egofest witterings from those angry young men of the 80's, who have new teeth, and have nothing new to say. Wouldn't it be great to see a review about a book that is not very good at all, that simply says, TTL SHTE. All very subjective of course but just because you've written something great in the past doesn't mean that everything else you do is in a similar vein. Off to Manchester to see what the Gallagher brothers are up to. Toodlepip.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Celebrity Misery Noir

I've just heard the sad news that Peter Andre and Jordan are to split. Whenever a marriage breaks down and children are involved, it is a desperate state of affairs. When its done in the public domain even more so. But not only is there a tear in the eye of the Moose for the children, as Michael Jackson would say, but for the British Reading Public. We are going to be inundated with the ins and outs, lots of ins and lots of outs, and with a cast list of hundreds of minor slebs putting their oars in, as they say down at the Leander. Who did what to whom, when and where, but you just know that there is a book, or several books that will be coming our way courtesy of the gilded quills of Messrs Peter and Jordan. The supermarket aisles will be festooned with duplicitious tales of bed hoppery and all manner of shenanigans. It will be labelled Celebrity Misery Noir. A new section for the booksellers. Psychiatrists with Diploma filled walls from every Mind Body and Spirit University from the planet Sackcloth will be wheeled out on daytime TV to explain what went wrong. And the sums being paid out to these slebs will be atsronomical thus delaying or possibly ending the careers of several hundred new writers. Fantastic.
Go Peter.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Where is Stephen Fry?

I am looking for the Twitter Laureate, Stephen Fry. I have been led dancing and screaming along the twitter route. They say it is the only way forward for bloggers and Indy publishers to get their ideas and wares out there into the Cyber Universe. So I have succumbed. I have decided that I will spend the week tracking down Stephen and I if I haven't found him by this time next week, I will have failed. I want to know when Stephen goes for a curry. Takes his dog out. And then hopefully he will invite me to one of his dinner parties and then everyone will buy Bluemoose books because of my association with him. Are people that shallow? Surely not. But I can guarantee that if I do twitter along with the nations' favourite luvvie, the profile of Bluemoose will go through the roof and sales will follow. It's the economics of celebriture and I'm dipping my toe into it. Just a little. I don't know what the Twittequitate is, and perhaps stalking stars by twitter is not the done thing but I can see a TV show in the offing.
'WHERE IS STEPHEN FRY?' I can hear the theme music as I type. I will twitter John Lloyd and see what the chances are. I'm off know because I can here the Twittering Gods calling. What have I got myself into?

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Nasty authors

Bluemoose had its first hostile email on Friday from a disgruntled author. The lady in question had sent in a submission of her work and asked if I wanted to see the full Mss. After reading the synopsis and first three chapters I didn't think it was for us, and politely emailed back and declined the offer of reading more. Towit all hell let lose and an invective not seen since the 'Derek and Clive,' tapes ensued. After she had vented several spleens, I emailed again and said that perhaps this wasn't the best way of getting her worked looked at and published. Hostility is not a great bargaining chip. She strained her creative sinew and replied that,' Bluemoose should just carry on publishing books by the likes of Jade Goody.' I didn't reply. I have better things to do, like the washing. Here is the issue. If you believe that your work is good enough to be published, don't be surprised that their maybe some people out there who don't like it. Show some humility. Listen to advice and move on. If you just want to rant, Blog. I do. But don't send nasty emails because if you do, the email Divils from this part of the world will scurry down the Ley lines and give you the worst tooth ache ever. And that's a promise. So think on.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Publish and be damned

Last night the Moose and Stephen Clayton, author of The art of being dead were at an event at Hebden Bridge Library called How to be published. Linda Green who is published by Headline Review was talking about Mainstream publishers, Mary Rochford talked about self publishing and Steve spoke passionately about being published by an Independent. It was a really interesting night with forthright and passionate views being expressed. There were over 40 people there who heard that writing is more about honing your craft than the divine spark of creativity. Of course ideas are essential but as a writer you need to develop the craft of writing.With the world of Celebriture taking over the publishing world it shows that there are now different avenues to get your work published.
In the organ of the booktrade , as they call themselves, The Bookseller had a profile of Bluemoose books and myself. There is a dreadful photograph of me staring mysteriously into the ether. I need to go to the gym, buy a thinning circus mirror or not get photographed ever again.Vanity. It'll be the death of me.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Books and Delis

The Moose and Steve Clayton are speaking at Hebden Bridge library tonight. Steve will be talking about his book, The art of being dead and how he managed to get published by an Independent and I will be ranting on about the trials and tribulations of getting new writers onto bookshelves, trying to get reviews and dealing with Waterstones et al. There will also be an author from Headline and a self published author. They will all be talking about their experiences of getting published. Mainstream. Independent. Self Published. There was a wonderful quote from Chris Blackwell, founder of Island records, who are celebrating their 50th anniversay this year. He said the big multi national record companies were more like supermarkets and Island and other indies could be compared with the delights of the delicatessan, which is a damned good answer. With the news that Transworld have doubled the advance to £2m to Paul O'Grady for the next installment, what chance of new writers getting their chance to deliver bold and original fiction to the reading public? Well, the answer is in Independents like Bluemoose, Tindal Street and Myrmidon.The time is right in this age of Corporate publishing blandness for Independent Publishers to shine. You may pay more for a Malt whisky but the taste will linger far longer than all the blended Scotches you can purchase from the supermarket. That's enough of the analogies, but you get my drift. The New York Times yesterday may have said the book is dead, but for the discerning reader there are enough independents out there publishing fantastic bold and original writing. When The art of being dead became the best selling non promotional book at Wats Leeds last year, you know that given some prominence, new writing from a debut novelist and published by an Independent does sell and can make a few quid for all concerned. Simples.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

The Library and the Tortoise

I am off to Poynton today, to deliver 50 copies of 'Gardening with tortoises' by Pippa Aspy. David Bellamy loved this book and said it would grace his library for a long time. It looks at the trials and tribulations of Pippa as she moves her 25 tortoises, plants, two parrots and her naturist husband first to Spain and then France. One episode where nuns from the local convent pop round with some Dandelion leaves for the Indian Star tortoises and bump into Pip's naked husband Ed, pruning in the garden is comedy heaven. I have sold them to a lady called Anne Tortuga, who runs Cheshire Tortoises and they have their annual show in Woodford on Saturday 8th May. I have sold them on a sale or return basis. It could be the start of great things to come. An entree into the world of Tortoises nationwide and another way of selling this great book. Direct to the public cutting out the high street retailers and wholesalers whose demands for astronomic discounts make it difficult to turn a profit. I found Anne and the world of Cheshire tortoises through a leafelet I found in Central Library Manchester. Even with the the world of the tinternet, good honest snooping in a library found what could be a great outlet for one of Bluemooses publications.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Very Fishy

I was speaking to some Wats booksellers yesterday and as we all know we are experiencing unprecedented economic times. Redundancies have been announced at Wats, which with the new Hub making goods in a thing of the past was always a possibility. The staff I spoke were aware that this would happen, but what disappoints them most is the way the process has been handled. I have only got one side of it, but having experienced having to re-apply for my job at an Academic publisher 9 years ago and go through the interview process knowing you're fighting for your job and competing for one position against fellow work colleagues, is not a pleasant experience. Experienced staff have had little if no information, rotas have been changed to make it very difficult, and people who have worked for over twenty years are so disillusioned they don't know whether they want to work for the big W anymore. One senior bookseller said to me.'To keep my job I will have to lie to make sure one of my mates doesn't get the position. If I don't I will either lose my job or have my hours significantly reduced.' Way to go Mr Johnson.
All this from a book company who, two years ago thought the only way out of the bookselling mire, was to introduce Fish Tanks into every store. Visionary.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

The View From Here

The Moose will be guesting, at some point in the future, on the literary online magazine The View From Here. Stephen Clayton will also be doing an interview, talking about his book, The art of being dead and his previous life as a 'rock and roll god,' not my words but those of Julian Cope. If the Moose manages to escape the ravages of the swine flu pandemic that is sweeping 10 Downing street , I will be speaking at an event at Hebden Bridge library this Friday 8th May about Independent publishing. Steve will be talking about being published by an independent publisher, there will also be an author discussing her experience of being published by a mainstream publisher and a writer who is self published. It should be interesting. So,busy, busy. Off to the station now, as Heth, my wife, is off to the capital with work. Lots of meetings and superior Lattes. Supposedly. So I'm looking after my two teenage boys this week. We will be fine. I think. If not, I will be asking for online advice. All parents out there, be ready, I may need your help. Off to Manchester to see how the redundancies have affected friends at Waterstones. The new political mantra from Wats HQ is Hubbanomics. Nothing to do with that Tom Cruise chappy, you know the one, jumps up and down on couches and is believed to a third rate Thetan, the Sleb Scientologist, and everything to do with the new HUB that is being unveiled in Burton on Trent to cure all Wats distribution and selling ills. I will be going along with tea and buns but am not sure that will be enough. Tragic.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Bookless in Brid

I survived the trip to Bridlington and managed not to get buried, which is always a plus. Spent hours skimming stones into the North sea with Spike whose enthusiasm was unbounded. We all had fish and chips, an ice cream and weren't disappointed at the wholeasale tat that was on show. Lollipops in the shape of viagra infused penises were the confection of choice. We tried to smuggle one back into Hebden but it was confiscated by the border police in contravention to an arcane penile confectionary law dating back to 1615 when an outbreak of erect penises made from dough started a riot in the Calder Valley. Seven Methodists were killed.
The only bookshop was a publisher's clearance shop, but then with such other temptations who would possibly want to read a book?

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Sandcastles in the sun

We're taking our two year old godson, Spike, to the seaside to build sandcastles and then demolish them. It's what you do on a Bank Holiday Sunday. We're heading off now to beat the seaside hordes. The Moose may even be buried. I'll let you know tomorrow if I survive.

Saturday, 2 May 2009


Waterstones report a drop in sales and also announce that they are to make 650 people redundant. Now I'm no retail guru but there is one thing I wouldn't be doing and that is try to comptete with the supremarkets and Amazon on price. So don't bother. So what would I do? Do something different. Provide the customer with a deeper range, give back the autonomy you've taken away from the managers and let them sell to their customers. They know their audience. Competing on price alone will not work. Amazon and Tesco will gobble you up. Waterstones seem totally obsessed with market share. And the Hub is not the answer. Sub contracting distribution to a company that specialises in car parts is interesting. Waterstones dominates high street bookselling. Use that strength. Dare to be different and you may survive. If you follow the economics of the Hub you may just disappear into your own black hole.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Poetic Dead End

Andrew Motion takes off the Poet Laureate's cap today and passes it on to Carol Ann Duffy. Probably. She will be the first female poet laureate. Apart from the historical and traditional aspect of this post, I don't know what it adds to the world of poetry. Banging out the odd poem for Chazzas birthday, or when Queenie gives out a few pence of a Maunday Thursday doesn't really constitute a job. Now I know how hard it is for poets to get their work out there, so anything that helps them with their profile is a good thing. Although, speaking to my two teenage sons poetry has very little relevance to them. They listen to rappers like Captain Hot Knives. Popular music has taken over as the poetry for the masses and you can download it for free. Whoever becomes the new poet laureate has a lot to do if poetry isn't to become completely sidelined as some form of freeform jazz has in the musical world. Irrelevant, self conscious and self congratulatory.