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The Big Indie Book Crawl

This summer, Emma Chapman author of the ‘creepy little chiller’ (Hilary Mantel) How To Be A Good Wife, will take to the British roads in a challenge to visit as many independent bookshops as she can in one month. She tells us what motivated her Indie Book Crawl…

 

While I was writing my first novel and working in a gift shop, I spent a lot of time daydreaming. I would imagine what it would be like if I was ever a published author. Terrible clichés would run through my mind: holding the finished book, seeing it in a bookshop, meeting readers. I used to think up crazy, outlandish things that I would do to ensure I made the most of every opportunity.

Now that my first novel has been out in the world for over a year, I often think of that daydreaming girl. I don’t want to disappoint her. Every week, I read another article about how hard it is to be a writer, how riddled with anxiety and uncertainty this job is. I’ve been guilty of moaning about it myself. But if that daydreaming girl could hear me beseeching my position as a published writer, she’d kick me in the teeth.

This summer, I’m taking that girl up on her daydreams. I’m coming back to the UK, and I’ve set myself a challenge. I’ll visit as many independent bookshops as I can in one month, to thank those that work in them for all the work they do on behalf of authors.

It’s easy to bemoan the fact that Amazon and online book retailing are making independent booksellers’ lives difficult, but there are also lots of things to be positive about. In the UK in 2012, 58.8% of our book purchases still took place in bricks and mortar stores, whether that’s independents or others. That’s compared to 31.6% in the US, where it’s actually big chain stores that are suffering more than independents.

People are reading more than ever. Although more people now own EBook readers (50% of those surveyed in the Internet and American Life survey, people prefer reading print books. Between 2012 and 2014, the percentage of adults who read print rather than Ebook increased from 65% to 69%. In November 2012 in the UK, Ebooks only had 9% of the total book market.

Publishers are also supportive of independents and other book retailers. No one wants Amazon to be the only port of call for book buyers: they have a big enough monopoly on sales as it is. Also, the publishers understand that if physical bookstores go, it could affect whether they exist as well. Does Amazon need the publishers to exist? Since it now has its own publishing house, Amazon Publishing, the answer could well be no.

It’s undeniable that the book industry and the way we purchase books are changing. But it’s also undeniable that local bookshops offer much more than book buying. They offer advantages to a community: skilled personalized help from book lovers, book clubs, events, beautiful displays, the joy of browsing, and lots of other innovative things which online retailers simply can’t offer. Some, like Jaffe and Neale, have opened cafes to enhance their status as meeting points. So much about reading and literature is about discussion, debate and building relationships. Independent bookshops understand this is something that the Internet will never truly achieve.

Ultimately, it becomes a choice for the consumer. These bookshops will not continue to exist if we don’t buy our books from them. It’s as simple as that. Most people don’t want that to happen, but they still take the advantages of prices that Amazon offers. Amazon sells books at a loss as it makes the money up on other things, and it’s building a customer base. But we need to start making the choice to support independents before it’s too late. Otherwise, all the other things that they offer will disappear too.

What, really, are we losing by shopping local? Many local bookshops offer a next day delivery service just like Amazon. We’re saving maybe a few pounds here and there, for a product that has taken its author years to create. A few pounds that can help keep these wonderful independent bookshops in business.

I believe that we all need to make conscious purchasing choices for the long game. I think that authors can do more to spread the word about this: to encourage readers to buy from their local bookshop. That is exactly what my tour is about. It’s also an opportunity to have an adventure in my home country, drink endless cups of tea, and satisfy the daydreaming girl I used to be.

 

Emma Chapman, author of How To Be A Good Wife will be visiting Jaffé & Neale on 12 July 2014. Take a look at the map below to see her full route! 

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Books, boxes, and Chipping Norton Literary Festival

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There are always boxes of books coming in and out of the shop, but never more so than in the run-up to an event, when we take delivery of all the additional books needed on top of our every day stock. Right now we’re gearing up for Chipping Norton Literary Festival, a four-day extravaganza of books right on our doorstep. The festival holds events in seven venues across the town (fortunately all within a few minutes of each other) and we have book stands in at least four of them. At the same time.

Making sure we have the right numbers of people and the right numbers of books in the right place at the right time is a logistical challenge, but one we relish. Jaffé & Neale has been the official festival bookseller since year one (the festival is in its third year), and it has become a big part of our event calendar.

On the Friday of the festival our booksellers head off to 13 schools with festival volunteer stewards and an amazing array of children’s authors. Our Reading Room is transformed into an authors’ Green Room, and there’s always a big buzz at lunchtime as authors catch up with each other and talk about their visits.

Festival highlights this year include Kate Adie, economist Tim Harford, children’s authors Lauren Child and Holly Smale, crime writers Nicci French, Mark Billingham and Tania Carver, and many more besides. There are more than 80 authors taking part, so if you’re in the Chipping Norton area the weekend of 24-27 April, take a look at the programme.

Now if you’ll excuse us, we’ve got some more boxes to shift…

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Meet the author: Graeme Simsion – The Rosie Project

The Rosie Project by Graeme SimsionOn Monday 3 February we will be welcoming Graeme Simsion to Jaffé & Neale, to celebrate the paperback publication of his novel The Rosie Project, which was critically acclaimed following its launch in 2013.

Professor DonTillman is a Melbourne Professor. Although it is never acknowledged by Don himself, it is clear to his friends – and indeed to the reader – that he is on the Autistic Spectrum, and his literal interpretation of human behaviour is both uncomfortable and brilliantly funny. Don sets out to find a girlfriend, devising ‘The Wife Project’ and putting prospective partners through a detailed screening questionnaire. It is a touching read which examines the way in which we make decisions and form relationships.

A former IT specialist, Graeme Simsion is a screenwriter and novelist, and a father-of-two. He lives in Melbourne, Australia, and we are very much looking forward to welcoming him to Chipping Norton.

Monday 3 February, 6.30pm, at Jaffé & Neale. 

If you can’t join us but would like a signed copy of The Rosie Project, contact us to reserve your copy. 

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Jeremy Clarkson at Jaffé & Neale

The queue stretched out of the shop and around the corner, but despite the chilly weather, there was a cheery atmosphere among the crowds who turned up to meet Jeremy Clarkson last week. Staff handed out chocolates, and there was much speculation about what car Jeremy would be driving when he showed up (a Landrover).

As soon as Jeremy was settled at the signing table we began letting people through to see him. He took time to talk to everyone, especially the surprising number of young people who were excited to meet one of their TV heroes.

‘You once said I could have your job,’ said a teenage boy, as he presented his copy of Is It Really Too Much To Ask? for a signature.

‘It’s yours,’ Jeremy said. ‘It’s mostly writing, you know that, don’t you? And a bit of filming.’

‘That’s fine by me,’ the lad said. And the deal was done.

Dedications were written to dads, granddads, boyfriends and the occasional sister, and the stack of books at Jeremy’s side grew gradually smaller as he worked his way through the dozens of copies which had been reserved in advance. It was a wonderful evening, and we would like to thank Jeremy, and all the people who turned out to meet him.

If you weren’t able to join us, but would like a signed copy of Jeremy’s latest book, Is It Really Too Much To Ask? we still have a few copies in stock, so get in touch to reserve yours. 

Jeremy Clarkson at Jaffe & Neale

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Book signing: Jeremy Clarkson

Journalist and Chipping Norton resident Jeremy Clarkson will be signing copies of his latest book Is It Really Too Much To Ask? at Jaffe and Neale, at 5.30pm on Friday 15 November.

This will be the only UK signing, so don’t miss out!

‘In a world where the blind insist on leading the blind, we’re lucky to have Jeremy Clarkson doing the driving on a laugh-out-loud tour of what’s brilliant and what’s plain stupid- as only he can see it.

Pithy and provocative, belly laughs are guaranteed as Jeremy fearlessly lays out everything we’ve all been thinking but never spoken up on. For too long we have accepted daftness instead of embracing the best, and our national treasure demands an answer to a simple question: is it really too much to ask?’

‘Brilliant… laugh-out-loud’ Daily Telegraph

‘Outrageously funny… will have you in stitches’ Time Out

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