Thursday, 3 February 2011

How to browse a bookshop

So, lesson one happened earlier this week - and my lovely pupil didn't buy anything but did pronounce herself very happy and said she'd found it quite exciting (?!?)

What did we do?
1) Homework in advance - I suggested she should read the weekend papers for a couple of weeks, obviously focussing on the review section. I'm an Observer reader by habit, she tends to the Times and I think (but haven't checked) that whatever paper you normally read, it's likely that their review section will reflect your tastes.

2) Getting to the bookshop - we went for the big Waterstones on Piccadilly. I know it's obvious and corporate, but it's big with lots of choice and open late into the evening, which seems far more civilised than late-night opening by other shops. And 15 mins walk from work, which is also good.

3) Let the browsing commence - so we mooched, floor-by-floor. Ground floor not so good - it's more like a WHSmith with all sorts of random tat; but 1st floor upwards is brilliant. 

We talked about how important book covers are (massively, and I think helpfully - but I'm not such a fan of every book by an author having the same design of cover) and about how you choose what to pick up. I love beautiful books - the Virago classics hardbacks with beautiful covers spurred me to buy loads that I wouldn't have picked up otherwise. But I won't even touch pastel-covered chick lit, and have a fairly strong prejudice against books that have the author's name (or a sword) embossed in silver or gold on the cover.

And it's all about what you pick up really - after that its a series of filters about whether/when you put it down. I tend to browse the tables, unless I've got specific ideas to follow up from recommendations or the papers; she was keener on the shelf-edge recommendations and the displays of books by decade. 

4) And the point of decision - I'll look at the blurb and the recommendations - and who made them. I can't be doing with 'womens' books, or with books which are only recommended by womens mags. Anything that passes the cover test gets a quick browse within - as much for the quality of the object as for the content I'm ashamed to say. And I'm not one of the people who reads from the front cover; nor would I read the last page before deciding. There is a great blog here about spoilers, what constitutes a spoiler and why its sometimes better to know the outcome...

The real decision for me gets taken on the 5th floor - with a coffee normally but some cocktails this time to celebrate payday (5th floor sling and a dark and stormy mojito). I'll rethink all my options - and if I've picked up loads, I'll sort into yes, no, maybe and take it from there. 

Oh yes, I love buying books. And I'm going to keep on going till I convert her. 

**found this on 'Buy Books for the Holidays'**

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