It seems that the other day the staff of Albion secondhand bookshop in Broadstairs managed to go to lunch locking one of their customers in the shop, adding a new and interesting risk to book browsing.
I don’t close my bookshop at lunchtime so I haven’t ever managed to do this, come to think of it though I don’t think Albion used to close for lunch, maybe it’s a sign of the times in retail.
I have been lucky with review copies and reps samples this year so am quite busy with people picking up early and extra cheap Christmas presents, in fact lunch time is generally the busiest part of the day.
With shops at the moment I have to admit that I am finding it increasingly hard to find one to hide in during my lunchtime and other times out and about, what with the cold weather coming on and early forays into what should be Christmas shopping.
This is an increasing problem for someone who doesn’t like conventional shopping, what I like to do is to browse bookshops, antique shops record and cd shops and increasingly they are going.
I am afraid the essential food and clothes shopping that we all have to do, isn’t my idea of enjoyment and as I said it’s a bit cold hanging around outside. There are plenty of charity shop I know but these seem mostly to contain old clothes and books that wouldn’t make it into most secondhand bookshops.
I have a section of this sort of book with prices ranging from 5p to 10p, not much fun to browse though.
Fraid to say one of my favourite shops in Ramsgate the camera shop is having a closing down sale, probably another victim of the internet.
Shopping on the internet though can have its problems, compared to shopping in a shop in the ordinary way, sometimes it seems that one the one hand one saves about 20% of the cost of the item, but on the other hand about 20% of the transactions go wrong.
I think this is more about the scammers out there than anything else, although scamming is moving out into the real world, often scams that have been going on for some time on the internet are now appearing in a non internet form.
One at the moment is the card through the door, saying that the postman has tried to make a delivery, but you were out, this card tell you to ring a premium rate number to arrange delivery.
Call the number and as soon as you start to hear the recorded message you will have been billed for £15.
This one effects me in a roundabout way, due to another sort of internet crime, this one is people who order books from legitimate secondhand booksellers and then say the book hasn’t been delivered, obviously if you are selling a secondhand book, you are only likely to have one copy, so the only thing you can do is refund their money.
We overcame this problem by sending out secondhand books that people had ordered over the internet via sites like Amazon, where you can’t view buyer feedback, by sending the by registered post.
This of course isn’t a problem with new books where you can send them another book, or with sited like Ebay where you can view the buyers feedback.
Other internet scams are moving onto the phone, I heard of someone recently who was phoned up concerning a compute virus that they were supposed to have, having removed some essential files from there computer, they then bought some supposed anti virus software that did even more harm to their computer.
I should point out that there is very good free anti virus software available online and also if anyone directs you to your computers error log, the indeed you will be able to see files that have had errors.
Well despite the imminent closure of the camera shop a new florist http://www.thesecretgardenflorist.co.uk/ is opening, I am afraid that a florist won’t really do it for me though.
What has happened to the independent shops and what I do when I go out for a bit of relaxation during my lunchtime is of considerable concern to me and I am beginning to think that it is the internet that that has tipped the scale here.
The factors that have lead to the demise of our towns are pretty mixed, out of town shopping centres haven’t helped, form the bookselling point of view though and speaking from my own perspective, in many cases they can’t compete either on price or range in some areas.
Another factor here is the increased cost of shop buildings and as I said the other day this hasn’t been helped by the way housing benefit has raised the value of housing that no one particularly wants to live in.
This is an old problem really, it comes up in many areas when the government pays for something for people, you often don’t get value for money when the consumer isn’t doing the spending.
Whatever the pros and cons much of the shop property on the edges of our town centres has been turned into undesirable housing.
It is when you add all of these factors together that things really start to go wrong.
Here in Ramsgate I don’t think that it is a problem with the underlying prosperity, as the independents selling things that you can’t easily buy via the internet seem to be doing OK.