Last night was my first bookshop event for Finding Myself in Britain – sometimes I have to pinch myself that yes indeed, I have written a book-baby and yes, I get to go to some lovely places to speak to some lovely people about it!
The rain poured down as I chugged along in the train to Wokingham, the setting of the evening. My publisher’s super-salesguy Lawrie Stenhouse was there to greet me at the station, complete with brolley and Diet Coke. We arrived at the picturesque venue, the Holme Grange Craft Village, a setting of cute shops and a converted milking barn which is the café, where the event took place. There’s a Christian bookshop in the craft village called Quench, whose manager, Ali Ceaser, had the vision and passion to host the evening. She got the Quench owners, Tony and Claire Bronnimann, on board and worked with my publisher, Authentic Media, and the staff at the café to make it all run so smoothly.
I especially loved the quizzes Ali had for people to complete as they arrived on different meanings of words according to which side of the Atlantic one is on. Each of the guests, as part of the evening’s price of admission (only £5), received a sumptuous piece of cake and a cup of tea or coffee.
Bookshops have been decimated up and down the country over the past five years – we’ve probably lost 150 Christian bookshops with the demise of the Wesley Owen and SPCK chains, along with many independents. Thus I find the vision and passion of these committed people who host events such as mine last night so encouraging. The Quench chain seems to be bucking the trend of decline, from what I gather – keeping a firm grip on stock (not buying too much or the wrong products for their area), employing passionate and hardworking people, and having the faith to host an evening like last night’s.
After all, any event is a gamble – will people come out? A week ago we thought we’d be cancelling it, for not enough people had bought tickets. But the evening ended up being sold out, and people came even in the rain. Do support your local bookshop if you have one.
And following, some photos from the evening.
Thank you Ali, Lawrie, and the team! It was an evening to remember.