The page where you can find out about the bookselling triumphs and other antics of the various groups in FMB. Send your text and photos to boraxwoman-exlibris(at)yahoo.co.uk (the '(at)' is an anti-spam device - change it to '@' to use address). Please note that the old email address "email@example.com" hasn't worked since the big TalkTalk hack, despite repeated e-mail conversations with the TalTalk "help" line.
Face book users: once you are logged in you can:
Twitter users: @ExLibrisMasked
Nottingham has just emerged from the UK's second lock down into 'Tier 3'. The pandemic has slowed a bit but of course it hasn't gone away. Many, including members of the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group, are horrified that the government proposes to ease restrictions over Christmas, enabling people to meet up. One person described it as a “terrifying prospect – it’s literally like sacrificing your loved ones for a slice of turkey and some brussels sprouts”. The shyster government's "do some stuff and not other stuff, but don't do it very much - unless of course you really have to, in which case do it safely" messaging continues to baffle the population. Here in Nottingham, the City Council stupidly decided to go ahead with the Christmas Market. This had to be closed after one day. The pictures show hundreds of people crowded together in Slab Square, with only some wearing masks, risking their lives for the opportunity to buy an overpriced sausage.
All this with a vaccine in sight.
The vaccine is the good news. The bad news is that the people organizing the distribution of the vaccine are the same abysmal shower of talentless, dishonest, irresponsible, callous and mendacious flimflammers, AKA the government that have done so wonderfully well up to now.
But I must resist the temptation to fill these pages with rant, just because it makes me feel better. At the moment we don't think 2021's Megabooksale will be in the spring; possibly September (as it used to be) providing the vaccine roll out isn't a complete cock up and Brexit doesn't bring about starvation, further disease and civil war. As always, we very much want people to have an enjoyable time at the Megabooksale, therefore we don't want to run it if we have to make people queue in the street 2m apart or impose other restrictions.
Meanwhile Madame Director (Director of Operational Planning ExLibris or DOOPEL) is still the masked mask maker, over a thousand masks having been given away free to individuals and charities. She is now only making them for charities. See chriscookcann.wixsite.com/maskmaker.
There is still a box of free books out the front of ExLibris Depot for anyone to take, but the box is only put out when it's not raining or dark - so I'm afraid it's not there very much!
As you will all know by now, there wasn't one. About the middle of March (13th), after consulting, friends, helpers and supporters, we decided to postpone it before preparations had gone too far. We would like to thank everyone who helped us through this difficult decision and sent us kind messages of support.
While the abysmal shower of talentless, dishonest, irresponsible, callous and mendacious flimflammers, AKA the government, were still dithering, national events were already being shut down. (Ed: I'm guessing your shiny new tory MP isn't coming to open the next Megabooksale then?) We also decided not to attend two local events scheduled before the Megabooksale, which later didn't go ahead anyway. Like everyone else, we have no idea how the situation will develop, but it's unlikely that there will be a Megabooksale this year.
It all seems extremely strange; as you can see from the picture left, the workshop remained a workshop, it never became the Non-fiction Department; instead of lugging heavy shelf units and endless boxes of books about, and generally trying to hide from the Director of Operational Planning, we have been adapting to the new "normal", keeping indoors and away from people. Engineering Services have been continuing with defects and mods, albeit at a more leisurely pace (see freshly painted 'ADLESTROP' sign in the workshop). We have been trying to grow vegetables in the garden of ExLibris Depot - something we don't usually have time for. Where last year poets read their works, courgettes and lettuces now grow (well, we hope they do).
Madame Director has been busily making protective masks. She is giving them free to anyone who wants one and as of mid-May has so far given away around seventy (June 10th and she's given away 264). Of course, they come complete with instructions (see photos above right). Yes, the masked bookselller has become the masked mask maker (if you look closely at the photo right, you can just about make her out amidst all the stuff in her mask making studio).
Bluffer Johnson and his car-crash cabinet of criminally negligent nincompoops have taken months to decide that masks are a good idea. If you are in any doubt about masks, take a look at this YouTube Video from Vox. If you would like a mask, please email boraxwoman-exlibris(at)yahoo.co.uk (the '(at)' is an anti-spam device - change it to '@' to use address). Madame Director naturally has her own masky web site at chriscookcann.wixsite.com/maskmaker. You will notice that she built her website using that new-fangled WIX.com thing, whereas in this website, every HTML element has been lovingly typed by hand to craft the thing of beauty you see before you. She muttered something about wanting a website up before the pandemic was over.... sniff.
We have listed some books for sale on the Upcoming FMB book sales page. We stopped this for the duration of the lockdown, but are resuming it now travel restrictions have been eased. Let me make it clear that despite the empty rhetoric of bluffer Johnson, the lockdown still goes on at ExLibris Depot; we will put your books in the front porch where you can collect them, your payment can go through the letterbox. Please don't use public transport to get here. If you have already claimed some of the books on display, don't worry we'll save them for you. If we see you, we'll give you a cheery wave through the window!
We put some free Books out front for passing people taking exercise, who might be finding themselves incarcerated at home with nothing to read (our idea of hell!!) Thank you to everyone who has been hanging on to collections of books which were to have been donated to us.
Blast if the Green Festival don't get larger every year! Again ExLibris was at it's usual corner, all our proceeds going to support the Festival. With the climate going to hell in a hand cart unless we do something in the next ten years, the Green Festival is an essential event. The weather was cloudy but not wet and loads of people came. As you can see from the picture left, business was quite brisk. We were having a good time chatting to people we only seem to see at the Festival when a man came up and said his daughter had video on her phone of a man lurking around the ExLibrismobile suspiciously. For once, we had been lax, leaving Madam Director's handbag on the front seat of the unlocked ExLibrismobile. Sure enough, the handbag was gone, together with her car and house keys. Friends and Festival stewards were very helpful; everyone was shocked that something like this could happen at the Green Festival. The police said if there was anything with our address on it in the handbag, the house and ExLibrismobile 2 could be at risk, so Paul took Madam Director back to ExLibris Depot. Before leaving, she phoned our neighbours and asked them to keep an eye out. She found them lined up outside, brandishing baseball bats and garden forks. Thanks to Paul and Jen and everyone who helped pack the stall up at the end.
Despite having video of the man caught in the act, the police showed very little interest, which makes one wonder at the usefulness of all those CCTV cameras that infest Nottingham. Nevertheless, we thank again the young lady who had the great presence of mind to shoot the video. The man clearly knew he had been clocked; had we not quickly noticed the theft of the bag, he might have had time to get into ExLibris Depot. Next year, we shall of course be more careful; the Head of Engineering Services has proposed new security arrangements which would get ExLibris permanently banned from the Festival, because they involve prowling around, wielding a very large spanner. However, Madam Director's suggestion is "... we just remember to lock the ********ing car"!
During the eight days of the Megabooksale one of the few favours that the weather did us was to be dry and sunny on the first morning, when award winning local author Stephen Booth arrived to open the sale for us, wearing a mask (see left). He is a very nice man, and stayed a long time chatting with everyone. He gave us a signed copy of his latest book, Fall Down Dead, for the raffle and tweeted and e-mailed lots of good things about us which I'm sure helped increase booksales.
Many people turned up for the opening, including representatives of the three charities we were supporting:
The weather made up for its Friday niceness by being absolutely foul on Saturday. Fortunately, we spotted the gale on the forecast and took the most vulnerable gazebo down the night before (we are glued to the weather forecasts for the duration of the sale). We are always surprised that the driving rain doesn't seem to deter our customers, who left with armfuls and bagfuls of books. Nor did it put off the redoubtable poets seen sheltering under the big gazebo (photo right by Alan Lodge), their poetizing unaffected by the awful weather. Things improved for the following days although we still had to watch out for sudden showers, when we had to get books under cover quickly.
The 2019 booksale is over, and the takings have been counted. We do a count at the end of each day and by day 3, we found that the running total had exceeded £2000. By the end of the first day of the following weekend, we were excited to find that we had broken our 2016 record of £2376. The total at the end of the sale was an amazing £3619, which is very good news for our chosen charities, as it will be a significant help to them. The Masked Booksellers have presented cheques to bemused representatives of Zephyrs and Morton Hall Detainees' Visitors' Group. Later, we presented a cheque to the Sharewear team at their June fundraiser (photo below left by Gabrielle).
We're still feeling rather stunned and have been wondering why we did so well; there are probably many reasons. Firstly, none of it would be possible without our crew of helpers and supporters - now grown so numerous that I can no longer name them individually. Instead, I can name some of the ways in which you've all helped: poster design, setting up, lifting and shifting, cafe managing, cafe electrifying, standing watch in the garden (heedless of the driving wind and sleet) and toilet monitoring, publicity and leaflet distribution, comic and sci fi sorting and pricing, baking, gazebo loaning, gazebo and Great Pallet manipulation, poetry organising, photography, booksale opening, prize donating, bookcase donating, book donating, donating clothing for Shareware, donating food for the Netherfield foodbank, tidying up, &c, &c. We thank you all. It has been a splendid voluntary community effort, a celebration of books and of Nottingham, and we are humbled by all the support and nice words we've received. And thanks too for the personal gifts - meals, flowers, wine.
Then there was Stephen Booth not only opening the event but using social media to urge people to visit us. We had good interviews on local TV and radios: Radio Nottingham, our old friends Kemmet FM and new this year, Chat and Spin radio. Also there was an excellent piece on the sale by Notts TV, in which some of our customers were interviewed. Another old friend is Steve Cook, who always puts a piece about our sale in NG4 Magazine which circulates locally. We also appeared in the Nottingham Poetry Festival program. Publicity was also helped by all three organzations that we were supporting.
There was a massive donation from Lewis of science fiction books, which were being carted away in carrier-bagfuls, and comix, some of which turned out to be valuable. Thanks Lewis! This year we had Gabrielle as Head of Catering. She decided that J's needed a fridge and an urn for hot water. Husband Mark ran a cable from the house to J's and brought a fridge. The first fridge and urn didn't work but Gabrielle was unfazed by these equipment failures and quickly acquired replacements. J's even had waitress service! Thanks to Gabrielle, takings from J's for the whole sale were over four times more than last years'.
The picture above left shows the non-fiction section jam-packed on day one. On the left you can just make out the three new black shelves, donated by Geoffsky. They display more books than the previous arrangement and give a little extra space in which to squeeze more customers.
We think all of the above coming together fortuitously in our thirteenth year contributed to our success. Please don't expect us to be so brilliant next year!
Our everyday lives have now more or less returned. Thanks to a massive input of help, the tidying up is nearly all over. The non-fiction is all packed away in S House (AKA J's, picture right) and this year, not only can one walk from the door to the back without climbing over anything, but there is something wonderful, a commodity that throughout the booksale is rarer and far more beautiful than gold dust... On the bench by the window is an area of flat surface with nothing on it.
A few more photos kndly taken for us by Alan Lodge:
|Strangely, not bickering!||Poets going full blast.||Children's books spinner in the new Toilet Tent.     ||No comment needed.|
|Lots of gaps in the SF section by the window.||Dave's promotion to Leading Toilet Monitor has finally come through.||Bouquiniste style for the cookery section, created with a roof box.||...while in the Non-fiction Dept, great gaping gaps after the early frenzy.|
Finally, to everyone who bought our books, thank you and:
The ExLibris convoy set off for Leicester, getting there on time despite the road works. Thanks to everyone who helped us with unloading and brought us coffee. There was the usual wide space to fill with books and we did well. In the picture left, you can't see the ExLibris stall for the people looking at the books.
We were back in our usual spot on the corner for this much larger event this year. Our proceeds all went to the Green Festival because we think it's an important event that should be supported, because it helps raise awareness of climate change. The weather was Ok and we sold a lot of books. Because the proceedings are now spread over such a large area, it's become easy to miss the outlying stalls. However a few signs shoud sort this out. We hope stall-holders that felt remote and un-visited will give the event a second chance in 2019.
This year, the sale ran over two four-day weekends, the last weekend including Mayday Monday, making it the longest Megabooksale in the chequered history of ExLibris operations. On the first Saturday, there was an outbreak of poetry in the back garden, presided over by the estimable Dave Wood, so we were a part of Nottingham Poetry Festival, abeit a small, wet one. Dave Wood lives locally and has been working in community arts and poetry for 30 years. See nottinghamcommunityarts blogspot and picture of Dave in idyllic woodland setting, right.
Later, Rowena Edlin-White was signing copies of her fascinating book "Exploring Nottinghamshire Writers". The wind and rain were doing us no favours that first weekend, but fortunately Rob had lent us a large gazebo to cover these events, or everyone attending would have got pretty wet. The poetry went well but not many copies of Rowena's ground-breaking book were sold. Come on dudes, if a bit of rain can put you off acquiring a signed first edition, then you are not serious book collectors. During the last weekend, the weather improved, although sales are always slower in weekend 2. During one of the last days, I was out front, when a parrot got out of a car attached to a man's wrist. "'tis the drink", I thought, "or this booksale's getting too much for me - or both!" But the parrot was called Sammy and was not a halucination.
Thanks to the Mayor of Gedling, the charming Councillor Vivienne McCrossen for opening our sale on the first Friday.
Nothing would be possible without the crew of volunteers who help us every year. In 2018, these were in no particular order:
|Dave (his promotion to Leading Toilet Monitor has finally come through), Geoffsky, Sarah, Jane, John, Dee, Catherine, Anke, Veggies Pat, Rob (lent us the big, white gazebo), Anna, Rich, Lydia, Meredith, Tony, Claire, Margaret, Lynda (garden watch), Lynda (cakes).|
These kind people lugged boxes of books about, stood garden watch heedless of the driving wind and rain, brought cakes for J's or fed us. Abject apologies to anyone I have left out.
My reports of our great Annual Mega-Booksale are not only - like this one - disgracefully late, but also tend to be a bit... samey year after year. You know, lots of photos of happy customers buying books, Geoffsky frollicking on the train in the back garden, people wearing strange masks, &c, &c. This year, I thought I would concentrate on what goes on behind the scenes, before and after the Mega-Booksale - the stuff that makes it all happen.
About six to eight weeks in advance, the shadowy Director of Operational Planning, who is also Head of Marketing, begins her campaign. Before this, leaflets/posters will have been designed and printed. We have found that it's not enough to leave publicity to social media and e-mails; posters and leaflets must be taken to shops, cafes, libraries, theatres - anywhere with a window, a noticeboard, a leaflet rack or a counter, and tied to nearby lamposts. There is the soul-destroying coaxing and cajoling of the fickle media to give us space in their publications/broadcasts. Several times we have been interviewed by local radio or TV, but it only takes a saucepan to boil dry in some hospital kitchen for our item to be pulled. However, a big thank you to Kemmet FM who always have an item about us.
About six weeks before the sale, the back porch (fiction) has to be cleared so that two large shelf units can be deployed in it. These are normally at the back of the shed (AKA S House, AKA J's) which, by this time of year, will have become a solid mass of boxes containing donations received, These all have to be moved before the shelf units can be pulled out and are either moved to the garage or put back in the shed. Not too many in the garage please or the logistical mayhem will make building the non-fiction department here even more difficult.
The large shelves in the back porch cover up the windows so that the living room now enters a period of darkness, like Scandinavia in winter... More shelves bolt over the Kitchen window so this too enters a period of profound gloom (better now since Engineering Services painted the back of these shelves white). The boxes of fiction have now to be brought down from the attic and landing so that the Director of Operational Planning can begin doing what she enjoys most - putting books on shelves in alphabetical order (see pic of this frenzied activity left; sadly, the doctors can do nothing). There are more shelves on the window side (crime, science fiction, spicy); these are put up later to minimise sun damage. The shelves here are famously supported by pairs of tins of vegetables taped together. The tins must be exactly the same height, so we'll be eating meals based on tomatoes and chick-peas for the foreseeable. When the fiction is all set out in the back porch, it smells like a second hand bookshop. Nice.
Then one morning, the Director of Operational Planning remarks that she is extremely concerned about the lack of progress on the construction of the non-fiction department in the garage. Such seemingly casual remarks are invariably aimed squarely at the Head of Engineering Services and an invitation to immediate action. But he has however already begun this task by clearing his personal collection of books from about three shelf units so that these shelves may be used to display stock in the Megabooksale. In fact shelf units are already milling about upstairs at ExLibris Depot, like landing craft on the south coast before D-day. Assembly of the three-dimensional jigsaw of strangely shaped bits of wood that becomes the non-fiction dept. display shelves has already begun, because we have to have somewhere to put the boxes we have taken out the shed so the large shelf units can be moved into the back porch (see above). I hope that someone is going to wake me from this logistical nightmare but no, we're stuck with it. Mercifully, Dave, Geoffsky et al come to help move the shelf units downstairs and out into the garage; gradually, it all falls into place. It's time to move the remaining boxes of non-fiction from the shed into the garage and replace them with 10ps from the garden bins. This is the only time in the year that S House - or J's - is empty enough for it to be fully cleaned and any repairs carried out.
However, as shelving is erected and Madam Director arrives to impose order on the Non-fiction department (see left), the space in which Engineering Services can make or repair anything gradually becomes vanishingly small - or there's always out in the garden. Invariably, it will be found that some piece of wood, box of screws or vital tool has been immured behind shelves loaded with books and therefore irretrievable for the duration of the sale. Believe me, it is far simpler to go out and buy a new... whatever it is.
Meanwhile, the living quarters at ExLibris Depot can descend into squalor as seen right in 2014. Fortunately, this doesn't happen much these days due to improved... sticking it all somewhere else.
As you have probably noticed, much ExLibris stock is displayed in the open air (if not raining), so during the booksale itself, the day starts with lugging about 15 to 18 plastic boxes full of books out onto the front garden wall. These tend to be topics like 'cookery', 'gardening', 'health', &c. We don't sell much of this so the boxes weigh pretty much the same when they get lugged in again at night. We don't have enough gazebos to cover all the outside stock, so if rain threatens during the day, the boxes all have to be quickly lugged inside the garage. Guess what happens when it stops raining? That's right - they all have to be lugged outside again! Also in the morning, the spinners are refilled with books which have to be taken in again at night. Thankfully, there are many brave volunteers around for box lugging operations.
During the eight-hour days of the sale itself, one can be frantically busy - adding up the price of several bagfulls of books for a customer, while simultaneously trying to stop things getting wet or blowing away. Then there are times when we're just standing about for hours getting cold/wet. In the evening, (with the assistance of several glasses of alcohol) we re-stock the shelves - if we have anything left to re-stock them with.
After the last day of the sale, a sigh of relief can be breathed and the takings counted so that they can be distributed to the organizations we are supporting. But it's not over yet; the books have all to be packed away and stored. The shelf units and spinners have to be returned to their peacetime duties. Blessed daylight returns to the living room and the kitchen, when the shelf units are removed from the windows.
On the last day of the 2018 sale, there were great, gaping gaps in the stock on the fiction shelves because we had sold so much. Nevertheless, we still had to carry FORTY EIGHT boxes of fiction into storage, which means up one/two flights of stairs at ExLibris Depot. The picture on the right is of the interior of S House when all the boxes of non-fiction left over from the 2018 sale had been stowed. Look at it! Smell it! Touch it! See how you can walk from the door to the back without tripping over anything or having to move a box!! Enjoy this while you can; by next year's sale, there wont be room in here to swing a cat. Although... why would anyone want to do that?
Finally, some words about people who bring us a box or carrier bag of so-so books (usually grubby, damaged, damp and bent) in the last hours of the Megabooksale or even in the few days after it has finished. Unfortunately, Madame Director has forbidden the use of any of these words on the website.
On Saturday, March 10th, we had our first outing of 2018 to States of Independence, the independent publishers fair in Leicester, organized by Five Leaves Bookshop, Nottingham. We always get allocated huge display space at this event so the Head of Engineering Services is ordered to return to ExLibris Depot for more stock, getting to drive through Leicester's hellish one way system some more. Hmm, delightful! But not this time. Oh no. The ExLibris Mobile Fleet has been increased by one with the addition of an all-electric Renault Zoe. Zoe's boot is not as large as Polo so we're keeping Polo as the organization's main van. Some pics of Zoe right. An easy drive once you remember there's lots of things you don't have to do, like change gear. But Renault have made up for this by giving Zoe a control system like the flight-deck of the Space Shuttle. We're still trying to work out what all the buttons do. In fact, on the way to Leicester, the Director of Operational Planning had to park up and look in the manual to figure out how to turn the wipers off! That said, Zoe glides along serenely and very quietly, with plenty of acceleration and speed. You feel that you're driving the future. Best of all, there's a stretch of bus lane in Nottingham that's open to EVs. The urge to give the finger to the BMWs and Audis as we slip past the rush hour queue is, I'm afraid, overwhelming!
States of Independence is always a very interesting event with a lot going on. See pic left of the unfathomable Director of Operational Planning with a bemused Jeanette Ng, author of Under the Pendulum Sun, published in 2017 by Angry Robot.
We sold quite a lot of books. Thanks to everyone who brought us coffee and helped unload the vehicles.
The takings were shared between two local charities. On the left, we see Masked Booksellers from ExLibris, emerging from the shrubbery in Brookfields Garden Centre to present a donation to the local Contact the Elderly. It seems that the Director of Operational Planning has somehow become tangled in the undergrowth. On the right, a cheque is being presented to We R Here, outside their tiny premises in Arnot Hill Park.
Despite what it says on abebooks, a book is only worth X if you can find someone who wants it so much that they will give you X for it. We have had a number of supposedly valuable and rather esoteric books around for a long time, but the people who might have wanted them weren't coming to our booksales, so we decided to sell them on e-bay. We have sold one or two this way before, but it's not a regular part of our operation. This time we sold 6 books, making £489. You can transfer the takings from e-bay sales directly to a charity of your choice, but it has to be registered with e-bay. Accordingly, we gave the takings from 3 books (£141) to MSF, and the takings from the remaning 3 (£348) to Hope and Play.
We would therefore urge all the organizations to which we regularly donate to register with e-bay, in case we decide to sell some more books this way. It's quite easy but contact us if you need help.
We had a surprise message from Hope and Play, thanking us for our donation - they must have gone to some lengths to track us down, the secretive Director of Operational Planning was no doubt using one of her many aliases for running the on line sale. Hope and Play work for children in the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza Strip. They said our donation will directly help five seriously traumatised children get eight months of therapy, support and education. Messages like that make us realise why we do this, and I stop moaning about having to lug boxes of books about - for a while anyway.
Our on line customers seemed pleased with our speed of delivery and the care with which we wrapped the books.
In 2016, we had a sale of childen's books, this year we tried an offering of mostly collectable and unusual books. This was a sub-set of our main sale, taking place only in the garage and front porch over the two days of the first weekend in December. Like the childrens' booksale last year, there were no leaflets and publicity was mainly electronic. Nevertheless, we had quite a few visitors and managed to raise £343 for Bras not Bombs - an organization which provides underwear for refugees:
Pregnant women and rape victims are among the millions of female refugees who are having to deal with the discomfort and humiliation of having no clean underwear in camps across Europe and the Middle East. But one British woman has decided to do something about it. Caroline Kerr, from Nottingham, set up Bras not Bombs after hearing about the lack of clean underwear in refugee camps. Her action has seen thousands of bras and knickers donated by women in the UK reach those who most need it - The Independent.
For the 2017 Green Festival (vegan and off-grid), the Arboretum was divided into ZONES. In its customary pole position at the corner of Cyprus Avenue and Lime Tree Avenue, ExLibris found itself fortuitously adjacent to what seemed to be the CAKE AND PIE ZONE. The day began sunny and trade was brisk as we were the only stall selling just books. Towards the end of the afternoon, it began to rain but there was no wind so hardly any wet blew in under the gazebo. We were deeply moved as people crowded in to protect our stock from the rain with their own bodies. Probably they were just sheltering - anyway, whose bodies would they use? Mercifully, the rain stopped during packing up.
Thanks to Anke for helping us clear away (the battle with her allotment association over her use of permaculture continues; whether she gets evicted or not now depends on the council. Please sign this petition). Thanks also to Sally (Green Emporium, Haydn Road) and Max for taking extra boxes of books in their vehicles for us. Our proceeds of £116 this year go to the Green Festival because we think it's an event with a vital message which needs to reach a public wider than 'the usual suspects'. Photos and comments will appear in the coming days on the Green Festival web site, see also excellent photos by Tash which show everyone having a great time. Although the photo of ExLibris in the rain (right, shamelessly lifted from Tash's collection), suggests that the rain had dampened everyone's euphoria somewhat, I have to say that this was not the case. I always look like that.
So a much larger Green Festival this year, with stalls up towards Dahlia Path. For Green Festivals to come, there was talk of stalls to the southeast of Lime Tree Avenue and even in the narrow section between Addison Street and North Sherwood Street. Today the Arboretum - Nottingham City Council red tape permitting - tomorrow the World! See you next year.
This year's booksale again ran over the Mayday weekend and the one following. The first weekend was opened by the poet, writer and director, Henry Normal, masked for the occasion as you can see in the picture left. He even wrote a special poem about the "Masked Bookseller" - great to hear our deeds sung about by poets! Henry read it out to a large audience which spilled over onto the pavement outside ExLibris Depot. Thank you neighbours for putting up with all this annual hoo-ha outside No 16! Click here to read Henry's poem.
There is a 3 day breathing space between the weekends during which, as well as catching up on sleep, we tidy up and restock (if we have anything to restock with). The second weekend was opened by the Mayor of Gedling, Councillor Sandra Barnes complete with chain of office. The weather was kind and altogether we made £2299 to be divided equally between Nottingham & Notts Refugee Forum and School for Parents. This is £75 less than last year, but we are working at full capacity and we had to hit a ceiling sooner or later. We are still surprised to have made such a large ammount and once again we could not have done it without lots of help. I will attempt to name everyone so that you can see just how many people are involved. In no particular order:
|Dave (also Toilet Monitor), Geoffski, Sarah, Rachael, Jane, John, Catherine, Anke, Rich, Lydia, Tony, Claire, Mike, Margaret, Sparky the dog.|
These people lugged boxes of books and shelving units about, looked after the garden area on the days we were open, brought cakes for "J's" and even brought us meals. There may have been others who brought cakes... Massive apologies to anyone who I have inadvertently ommitted or whose names I have miss-spelt. If he continues his diligent study of the Federation of Masked Booksellers Manual, Vol II, we are certain that Dave will rise to Leading Toilet Monitor by the time of the next Megabooksale.
Without extensive publicity, no one would know anything about our booksale so we should also say thank you to all shops, pubs and organizations who put up our posters or take a pile of our leaflets, not forgetting the media who write or broadcast about us (ExLibris's Director of Operational Planning is hoping for her own chat show).
As soon as we opened, all departments were extremely crowded, see pic of the non-fiction department left showing that we really need a bigger garage.
We also said anyone ariving masked up could have a free raffle ticket. We liked the mask crafted from a paper bag with eyeholes cut in it (pictured right). Very... minimalist. We are surprised they let him on the bus like that though.
The Sparky the dog incident: On the second weekend, Claire, Mike and Sparky were looking after the back garden. Out front, I noticed a ginger cat sitting by the leg of the wooden table on the drive. "Strange," I wondered, "why is it sitting there?" It's often seen crossing the garden at ExLibris Depot but doesn't usually hang about. Then Claire and Sparky emerged from the path down the side of the house, Claire bearing coffee for the front-of-house crew. She had a firm grip on Sparky's lead so that when Sparky saw the cat and shot under the table after it, Clare cannoned into the table. How there wasn't a coffee-soaked pile of table, Claire, coffee mugs and books we will never know. Somehow, Claire managed to stay upright, spilling only some of the coffee. Sparky barked away but the cat didn't run off, it just walked into the road a little way and sat down. Meanwhile a hysterical Sparky had been dragged back under the table, straining frantically at his lead. The cat merely appraised him coolly. I thought the cat's wind up was blatantly deliberate and looked around for something to cut Sparky's lead, but the cat sauntered off, Sparky still barking. Not captured on camera unfortunately.
We are pleased to announce that a photo of the The Sparky the dog incident has since emerged from the secret files of the Operational Planning Section. See right. You can clearly see Sparky (left) going BARK BARK BARK &c, and the damn cat (right), cool as a cucumber.
Thank you to everyone who brought donations of food for the local food bank (see left). Thanks to Sleaford Mods for the signed albums and a poster for the raffle. The raffle made a substantial contribution to our total, so we'd like to add a huge THANK YOU to all raffle prize donors.
Finally, thank you to everyone who donated books. To all those who bought books, thank you and:
ExLibris was present at "Book Fair Saturday" at Lowdham Book Festival, but this year, the stall was run by some differently masked faces. This was due to the expected arrival of a new masked bookseller at the end of the month which required the Director of Operational Planning and the Head of Engineering (AKA the Grandparents) to be in Edinburgh. Takings were good and a fine time was had by all (except for the gazebo incident).
We were asked by the organizers to take a stall to the Flower Festival weekend at Newstead Abbey; this was a sunny two-day job in which we sold many gardening books (of which we have an overstock), ate too much cake and could look round the abbey and the gardens for free. My favourite Byron artefact on display has always been the elaborate cavalry helmet that he took to the war of Greek independence. Byron understood that to achieve revolutionary victory, you don't need an understanding of guerrilla warfare or the support of the politicized masses, just a really flash hat.
This year, again ExLibris attended States of Independance. This independent publishers event is held annually at De Montfort University, Leicester, organized by Five Leaves Bookshop of Nottingham. We arrived to find the usual entrance closed because the roof of a nearby building had been damaged in the recent winds but fortunately there were loads of helpful students around to help us convey the books from the car park.
We had a big area to display our books, and we were pleased to see that people liked to use it to have a long chat with their friends, not only for buying our books! Once again the Engineering Department were invited to return to ExLibris Depot for a refill of books. Who needs computer games when you have the Leicester one-way system to play with twice in one day!! At the end of the day, we found that we had done well. Thanks to States of Independence for inviting us again and seriously big thanks to our friends Jim and Julie for helping us load the car. Really not sure how we would have fitted it all in without their assistance.
Our gazebo collapsed on Saturday night in the wind and rain (see picture of interesting sculptural shape, right). ExLibris Engineering is planning many hours of work to restore it to its former glory, probably using bits from the one that collapsed in 2011 (see below - we can rebuild him, we have the technology!) Remember that one of the aims of this sale was to reduce our stock of children's books? Trouble is, when we announced the sale, a lot of people said "ooh, would you like some childen's books?". Donations included TWENTY boxes of books from the Girl's High School, so we now have many more children's books than we started with!
The picture on the right shows the masked booksellers of ExLibris presenting a cheque to a bemused representative of School for Parents.
ExLibris's first mega-booksale was in 2006 and there has been one every year since. In those ten years, with the mega-booksales and our stalls at events, we have saved a lot of books and raised around £10000 for various charities and good causes. The tenth anniversary is therefore a special milestone, so in 2016, we decided to try out a few changes. First the mega-booksale was moved to the spring and extended to run over seven days - Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Mayday Monday and the Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the following weekend. We have so much stock that we have to display some of it outside, but when it rains the outside display must be closed up. Running the sale over two week ends gives us a greater chance of dry weather. Also, people have a greater chance of not being on holiday when we're open. The mega-booksale would not be possible without a huge amount of help, humping endless boxes of books and shelf units about, and on the days, looking after J's cafe and the sections in the back garden. This year because of the extended opening, we needed more helpers than usual and we would like to thank them all profusely. Some of our helpers we had not met before so we got to know some very nice people.
The mayor and mayoress of Gedling, Councillor Meredith Lawrence and Mrs Wendy Lawrence, very kindly offered to open our booksale and even brought their own masks to wear (see picture above left). This year, ExLibris Engineering built a train in the back garden for children to play on (see picture above right). It was constructed from parts of a tree that used to stand nearby, pallets and wood filtched from skips and discarded wind turbine tail vanes. Next year, we hope there'll be a station to go with the train. In the picture on the right we see the raffle being drawn. Finally, a check being presented to members of the excellent Hayward House team. They look rather nervous - ExLibris Engineering didn't intend to look as scary as that, sorry!
Once again, thank you to everyone who donated books. To all those who bought books, thank you and:
This year we seemed to have more books to display than ever, including some of Ray Gosling's books from last year. We contrived a bit more display space than last year, but we were re-stocking the shelves throughout the weekend. With the opening of "J's", our cafe in S House, we had a place where we could display the 10p books as well as offer tea and cakes. S House is the mysterious secret mega-structure which has been an ominous presence on military satelite photographs for many months now. The rest of the year, S House is the non-fiction warehouse. Access to S House/J's is by a firm and level path laid by Wes and Son (see below). New this year was also the Toilet Tent, used to house part of the Children's Section (parents: don't worry, the 'toilet tent' has never been used as a 'toilet tent', it's for display purposes only).
The weather stayed fine, so we could display books on the front garden wall and we had many visitors. We smashed last year's record, raising around £2023 to split between Hayward House Hospice and NNRF Destitution Fund. So we were all stunned yet again and we do not know how much longer we can go on exceeding last years takings like this. This year, we also said goodbye to an old friend, "The Windsor Tapestry". This book is about the life and abdication of Edward VIII. The author is Compton Mackenzie who wrote it using l-o-n-g sentences. We have had it on display possibly since the beginning of ExLibris, all those years ago. At last, it has been purchased by an anonymous collector (see three of the anonymous collector's fingers in photo, right).The annual booksale would not be possible without a lot of help; thankyou to everyone who lugged boxes of books and shelving units about, brought us cakes for J's, and helped us look after things on the days. Above left is a very rare shot of some ExLibris masked booksellers in all their maskiness. See if you can spot the dreaded Operational Planning Section...
Finally, thank you to everyone who donated books. To all those who bought books, thank you and:
For Lowdham Book Festival, on Saturday, June 27th, the weather was fine and thanks to a special hitch learnt from a Dutch sea-captain, the Engineering Department managed to keep our flag pole from causing injury and mayhem, such as was only narrowly avoided last year. This year, trade was quite brisk, although noticeably fewer people attended the event and we only had to make one planned return to ExLibris Depot for extra stock. This year, we brought some "collectables" as an experiment, but they didn't go as well as we thought they would, although the price of our "collectables" is about the same as regular booksellers charge for their ordinary books. So takings a bit lower than last year, but a pleasant day.
Part of Sherwood Art Week, the "Remarkable Recycling Gala" in Sherwood Community Centre was a new event for us. Coming the day after the Lowdham Book Festival meant we didn't have to unpack the ExLibrismobile. There were lots of stalls selling unusual products made from recycled materials and Sherwood Community Centre is an interesting old building in its own right. ExLibris asked for a stall because we are about selling good books on cheaply so they can be re-read rather than chucked in landfill. Our stall was a little cramped in a corner, but we were by the door so we were the first thing people noticed when they came into the hall; in fact I'm afraid people browsing our stall were the reason it was sometimes quite difficult to get in and out of the hall. We don't usualy sell very much at indoor events but at this one we did surprisingly well. Someone came up to the stall and said: "You're those guys!" I said "Er... possibly," hoping she didn't mean the "guys" responsible for the Catford supermarket job in 1974, but in fact she recognized us as the masked booksellers. Oh how shall we handle the fame??
Lady Bay's open gardens weekend was another new event for us this year, running the Saturday and Sunday following Lowdham and Remarkable Recycling. We set up in a room in the scout hut on Mona Road which was the event's HQ and teashop. Everyone was very kind and helpful, even channelling arriving visitors through our room so that they had to pass by our stall. Trouble is "pass by" is what a large percentage of the visitors did and we didn't sell very much. Being an event to do with gardens, we put a set of shelves displaying our entire gardening/plant book stock right by the entrance door. Strangely, this was largely ignored and I think we sold about one book from it the entire weekend. We did have some curious donations though, among which were the good and er... the not so good. The donation from the scout hut itself though was definately among the good. Overall, there were at least three books donated which are quite scarce and so will be appearing in our "collectables" section. We spent the cash from this event on food (see full trolly left) which we gave to a food bank run by Hope Nottingham. This (for us) unusual move seems to have been well liked by our facebook friends.
Our first 2015 outing was to States of Independence, Leicester's festival of independent publishing, in De Montfort University, Leicester. Again we were given acres of display space, and plenty of assistance from helpful steampunk students. We didn't take quite as much as last year.
October, 2014: satelite photos (eg left) reveal that a secret concrete megastructure is being built secretly in great secrecy at the bottom of the garden at ExLibris Depot. What can this be? The shadowy and clandestine Operational Planning Section are clearly up to something again. In the picture is Wes ably assisted by Martin. They worked very hard, battling gallantly against heavy rain showers to get the concrete looking good and were most concientious. They also cleared up afterwards. The Engineering Dept were impressed and recommend them (handyman Wes can be reached on 07903816447 or Wezk77@gmail.com). You will all know that they do not make such recommendations lightly.
Meanwhile watch this space for further info regarding the furtive and frantic construction work at ExLibris Depot.
Two weeks later: The secretive and unaccountable Operational Planning Section have clamped an embargo on all photography at ExLibris Depot, and the Engineering Dept remain tight-lipped. Despite this, we have obtained a picture of what looks uncannily like a heavy-duty shed being built secretly on the concrete slab.
February, 2015: Security remains tight around ExLibris Depot, so it was with great difficult that the photo left was obtained. The mysterious dark panel to the left of the window has military intelligence organizations around the world baffled. The lights are burning late in the UN tonight as tension ratchets up on the Gedling-Carlton border.
This year we seemed to have more books on display than ever, including a large number of books from the personal collection of Ray Gosling (photo left), writer, broadcaster and campaigner, who sadly died last year. These were kindly donated to ExLibris back in February by Ray's sister, Juliet. We decided to save them for our September sale where they could be displayed properly. We also had many other excellent donations, including some jaw-dropping boxfulls from Warren (of Warren's Autoparts, Westdale Lane) which went straight in the Collectables section. We also have this year's Diana book as well...
There was a feeling that, with the help of Ray's books, we might possibly break the £1000 barrier. However, we did not expect to blow it out of the water, quite so comprehensively; by the end of day 2, it was clear we had made more than £1000, and the final total, including cakes and aftersales sales, was £1632!! This to be shared between our usual charities, Hayward House Hospice and NNRF Destitution Fund. Everyone was quietly stunned. This is a record for the eight years of the sale that we think will be hard to beat.
The weather was very kind to us; with so many books on display out front, we don't know what we would have done with them had it rained - like last year.
This Mega-Booksale would not be possible without considerable help - this year from even more people. As well as humping boxes of books, shelf units and bits of wood about, there is an extensive publicity campaign - much done electronically, but also a lot of putting leaflets through letter boxes, taking posters around villages, &c, &c. Rough research shows that all these methods of getting the message out bring people in. There is also the all-important cake making. We would like to thank Dave, Geoff, Barbara, Claire, Mike, Jenny, Kevin, Claire, Chris, Lynda, Lynda, Jenny, Bill, Pati (several names appear twice - this is not because this editing has been late-night and wine-fuelled, there were several pairs of people with the same name; I think that's everyone, deepest apologies if I have left your name out). Thanks also to the many shop and pub people all over Nottingham and in the villages who put our posters up.
Finally, thank you to everyone who donated books, especially Ray's sister Juliet, and his friend, Colin, who got in touch with us. To all those who bought books, thank you and:
We hope to see you next year. Here are some pictures:
|Our living room before the sale. Can't watch TV or even draw the curtains.||Setting out the non-fiction department.||New shelving in the fiction porch.||Behind the scenes: the cardboard box mountain - there could be an avalanche at any moment.|
|The rush is on...||...while outside, the weather holds.||This year, Geoff sports additional masking.||The Ray Gosling section.|
|Throughout the 3 days, the shop is never empty for long...||...and the weather continues good.||Again the ExLibrismobile is used as display equipment, and a spinner creeps furtively onto the pavement.||A couple of last year's shelf supports haven't been eaten yet.|
Do we have any of Ray's books left? Yes we do. They have been kept separate from our main stock and will appear at our next few sales, so if you missed our Mega-Booksale, watch out for our next sale dates on the upcoming booksales page.
And now sport. In the early days, ExLibris's entire "Sport" stock comprised about six books in a small box. This year, we've been inundated with sporting biographies and books about football, cricket, horse riding, wrestling, athledics - even synchronized bashnacu. So in the Mega-Booksale, out front we had three huge boxes full of the stuff (remember the dreaded Night of the Encyclopaedias of the 2011 sale??) We sold some, but, let's face it, sportsfans are not immediately attracted to book sales. Still, football's not like an electric light; you can't just flick the button and change from slow to quick. Flash bookstall outside Trent Bridge Cricket Ground anyone?
Lowdham Book Festival went very well for us; the weather refrained from doing its worst, the event was attended by many people who like books. Chris Richardson was there again signing copies his book : "A City of Light". It was the first outing for our fine new tables. In fact it was rather hectic. Like last year, we had to go back to ExLibris Depot for more books. But there were other things we decided we needed or had forgotten to bring, so we ended up going back to ExLibris Depot THREE TIMES, having to park further away from the event at each return. Then the mast supporting the ExLibris sign and flag fell down with a crash, narrowly missing someone in the marquee of many booksellers behind us. ExLibris operates a "no-blaim" culture, nevertheless at that precise moment, a lot of blaim was being hurled farely and squarely at the Engineering Dept. The mast was re-erected, and the person almost clobbered by it was humbly apologized to. We are thankful that no one got hurt and take it as a timely warning.
The shadowy Operational Planning Section is muttering darkly about "the need to tighten up procedures" - or even "having some procedures", and the Engineering Dept is keeping a low profile.
This year, we were outside, on a stall in New Square near the stage. The perceived wisdom had been that we would sell more books outside, where the speakers and music were, than inside the Winding Wheel, where we have been the previous two years. However, although the weather was good, there seemed to be fewer people attending the event this year, and so we did not do as well. Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable day, unloading our books at the site was easy and sunny goodwill quietened the usual left-wing bickering. Communists and Anarchists could at last agree on something - the need to get to the home-made jam stall before it sold out! There was a brass band, and from the stage, heroic speeches, some... er... uncompromising music, and among the crowd some perplexing street theatre.
Our first 2014 outing was to States of Independence, Leicester's festival of independent publishing, on March 15th in De Montfort University, Leicester. We're sometimes a bit cramped for display space at this event, but this year they gave us acres of tables, stretching away as far as the eye could see. The Operational Planning Section thought quickly and ordered the engineering team back to ExLibris Depot in Nottingham for more books. The engineering team were delighted at being given another opportunity to drive around Leicester's hellish one way system. Anyway, it worked. Thanks to so much easy browsing space, our takings were the second highest of all our outside events.
Thanks to Katy and everyone who helped us.
What can we say? Thank you everyone! The booksale was a success because of all the people who came along, browsed and bought. We really appreciate everyone coming along to see what we had to offer. We also owe massive thanks to everyone who helped us to promote the event in any way (we always find this the most arduous part of the preparations), and to all the businesses and venues who displayed our posters or took our leaflets. Thank you to everyone who rescued and donated excellent books. A big thanks also to our two emergency bakers, Lynda and Tamsin, whose contributions were so well appreciated that they were guzzled in no time! And then there are the people without whom we couldn't have done this at all - the packers and carriers, both before and after the event, Sarah, Steve, Dave, Lydia, Rich and Chris.It was an experiment to open on a Friday. Previously we opened on Saturdays, and experienced a huge rush right at the beginning. Friday opening seemed to dilute the rush, with smaller crowds (but still plenty of people) coming Friday morning, Friday post-work, and Saturday morning. Friday morning also featured an on-air interview with Christine at Kemet fm, and a photographer from Nottingham Post.
The weather wasn't with us the whole weekend, and soon after setting boxes of books outside on Friday morning, we had to rush to get them all undercover again. Then it brightened up, and we took the boxes out again, only to have to bring them in again soon after. Friday continued in this pattern. Saturday was fine, and we were very happy to be able to spread our wares about properly. We knew that Sunday was going to be windy, and after a bad experience in a previous year, where a securely-anchored gazebo had been smashed to pieces by the wind, we decided to take the gazebo down on Saturday night. Sunday ended up less rainy than forecast (though it was windy), and we managed to put the odd box outside some of the time. It's always better to be able to put some boxes of books outside on the wall, as they're more difficult to browse through when they're under counters in the garage.
In view of the large numbers of books we had, and the likelihood of wet weather, our car was pulled into service for the first time this year. The car boot offered a carboot sale of 10p items, which appeared popular. Otherwise 10p stock was housed in boxes on the front wall or in a big bin in the rear garden. Books on leisure interests were kept in boxes, and displayed on the front wall when the weather allowed. Other non-fiction was sorted and displayed by category on shelves in the garage. Children had a mini-bookshop in the front porch. The back porch, and a spinner outside it, housed the fiction, sorted and in alphabetical order where possible. Cakes accompanied the fiction.
A few items stand out this year. We were privileged to have local author Chris Richardson selling his new book A City of Light about Nottingham at our sale this year. This year saw the first appearance of ExLibris Maritime, a small but not bad collection of books about ships and the sea. ExLibris Maritime also gave notice of 2013's International Talk Like a Pirate Day and displayed some diagrams of handy bends and hitches. Aaaarrgh! A fantastic delivery of history books arrived half way through the sale, and much of it was snaffled up almost immediately. And a man who bought a book for 20p asked if we were going to discount prices at the end. He even came while we were packing up to see if there was anything going cheap, and was pelted with Gyles Brandreth biographies.
We display notices explaining that our prices are very low, and that we hope people intending to sell books on for profit should feel obliged to pay more. Inevitably, we always do get a few dealers (yes, you are easy to spot!); some of them pay more, and some don't. To those dealers who sometimes ask for a discount, perhaps our disdain is palpable. But at least we get your money, and it all goes to good causes.
The main prize in this year's raffle, an Android tablet, was won by Charles. Dave, Dave, Meirion and Mike won the other prizes. Our other competition was to spot the book which had been on every stall we'd done this year, and Mike was the lucky winner of the 'Bichon Frise Today' (that's the stupid-looking dog book also mentioned somewhere below)¯, as well as an ExLibris t-shirt.
Nearly everything has been packed away now; last and most irritating are those little piles of detritus that accumulate about the house during the sale. Typically, these might comprise: three drawing pins, a grubby blob of Bluetack, a piece of string 257 mm long, two pages fallen from a 1984 travel guide to the Soviet Union, a laminated sign saying "Cookery" and a broken pencil. We are now preparing ourselves for a diet rich in hummus and tomato dishes as we begin to eat our way through the shelf supports (luckily, we like to eat these anyway - er - the chickpeas and tomatoes that is, we usually recycle the tin part). We have given away much of the leftover 10p stock, as some of it has been hanging around a number of years, and we need the space for incoming items. But we have thrown nothing away, because we are ExLibris - Book Rescue!
It's always exhausting to put on the sale (which is why we are so grateful for all the help, and so relieved when people turn up) but it's fun too, and we get a real buzz from knowing we have rescued books and sent them on their way to good homes. Also, we have raised funds for good causes: including an extremely generous donation of £50, this sale raised £955.13, which will be split between two very worthwhile local charities: Nottingham & Notts Refugee Forum and Hayward House hospice.
Thank you everyone, and hope to see you next year. To all those who bought books, thank you and:
Here are a few photos - I understand there's more on that new-fangled facebook thingy:
|Stocking the non-fiction shop...||Not sure how we get there, but we do.||We need a bigger porch...||The queue for the fiction department.|
|We need a bigger garage.||The ExLibrismobile as display equipment.||Out front, the boxes are emptying quickly.||Just two of our exciting raffle prizes.|
|Lucky Mike has won the stupid-looking dog book!||Drawing the raffle.||Fiction porch aftermath....||Before the sale, it was extremely hard to walk across the attic for boxes of books; now look!|
In the shadows, the paperback spinners watch and wait silently. For the next time. Curious that no one can remember taking them up to the attic......
Sunday 21st July, 2013: Stonebridge City Farm Grand Open Day. We've heard of Stonebridge City Farm, been quite close to it on the 25 bus along Carlton Road lots of times, but not actually been there - at least not recently. The Open Day was packed with things to look at and do. The many Open Day stalls, including ExLibris, were in one of the paddocks. Elsewhere there was live music, Capoeira (Martial Arts Display), clog dancing and excellent food in the cafe. There was a circus workshop where chidren could learn plate spinning and stilt walking - but not lion taming. There was a guy making beautiful wooden things on a lathe, And did I mention the fire engine? Despite the unexpected drizzle (sorry to say that a copy of the official biography of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother got a bit damp) we were told that about 2000 people visited and our fears that the goats would eat the books proved groundless!
But being essentially first time visitors, what really impressed us was the place itself; the gardens full of vegetables and flowers with paddocks for chickens, ducks, strange birds, sheep, goats, cattle and horses. All in the middle of a built up area of Nottingham. It looks like a drawing of a city utopia perhaps by Cliff Harper - only this is for real. To learn about how the farm was built by volunteers on a pile of demolition rubble, you should visit stonebridgecityfarm.com and why not visit the farm itself as soon as you can?
The ExLibris stall had many visitors throughout the day, including one couple who said they'd come specially to visit our stall - which made us feel extremely chuffed. ExLibris proceeds of £50 were donated to Stonebridge City Farm and we look forward very much to being at their next Open Day.
Saturday 29th June, 2013 at Lowdham Book Festival, Lowdham Village Hall, Main Street, Lowdham. This year, we put up the ExLibris gazebo and usual flags outside the marquee of the booksellers. The weather was fair and sales were so good that we had to nip back to ExLibris HQ for another 5, yes that's FIVE, boxes of books! Interest was steady throughout the day and there was no "grave-yard shift" where sales suddenly fall off a cliff at about 3.30 pm. All proceeds went to Nottingham and Notts Refugee Forum.
The ExLibris stall also hosted Chris Richardson signing and selling his excellent new book : "A City of Light", about Socialism, Chartism and Co-operation in Nottingham, 1844. (Only £7.99, from Loaf on a Stick Press. See acityoflight.wordpress.com.)
On the left, a rare shot of behind the scenes of an ExLibris stall. As you can see, everything is laid out with almost obsessive neatness, all equipment ready to hand.
Saturday 15th June, 2013: at the Homebrew Festival in the Sumac Centre (245 Gladstone Street, Nottingham), our proceeds were donated to the Sumac Centre. ExLibris secured a place right inside the entrance. Tagging a bookstall onto such events doesn't usually work - people aren't expecting to have a book-buying opportunity - but this went well. We raised about £20 for the Sumac Centre and the feeling was that the concept "beer and books" definitely has legs. So expect to see us at the Sumac again.2013: we began the the year at the Festival of Words at Nottingham Trent University in February. Nice, easy access, lots of helpful students to carry boxes, inside - so not rained on and cafe close at hand for a quick sandwich. Everything in fact except customers. From the outside of the building in Goldsmith Street, it was not obvious that there was an event going on inside at all although halfway through the day, a sign was put on a stand outside the entrance. Even then it didn't have an arrow pointing to the door!! Once again, we were at States of Independence, Leicester's festival of independent publishing, and then Chesterfield Mayday - both events went well.
September, 2012: the annual House Sale - Gedling's only second hand book shop appears for 3 days - like Brigadoon (except that it's not one day every hundred years it's...anyway, you get the picture). When the dust had settled, we were shocked to find that we'd broken the record again with £858 to share equally betwen Hayward House Cancer Care and Nottingham and Notts Refugee Forum. Big THANKS to Dave, Dave (yes 2 Daves - not the usual sloppy editing), Geoff and Aggi, and Cake Maestro Margaret. Without these superheros, none of this would have been possible. Also the two boys next door who made a wonderful sign for our children's department (in the front porch this year). In past years, we've been helped by Zula, but not this year because she's off to Oxford Brooks University. All best wishes to Zula from everyone at ExLibris.
Thanks to the many people who donated books and other stuff this year and let's not forget all the shops, pubs and organizations who displayed our posters and flyers. We'd also like to give local bibliophile Wayne of Wayne's Autoparts on Westdale Lane a special mention for again donating some scarce volumes for our Collectables section. Thanks Rosemary and Colin for giving us a huge quantity of books and also our new, ultimately cool "book shop" sign. Thanks also to the donors of really fine prizes for our raffle.
To all those who bought books, thank you and:
At last some pictures of the 2012 House Sale below:
|Creating the shop goes on throughout the night.||Heinz Beanz as shelf supports.||Great new sign for the children's department.|
|Staurday Browser frenzy begins.||We actually have a queue?!??||How many people can you fit into a garage?|
|A little September sunshine.||Every garden structure is pressed into service.||Drawing the raffle.|
July, 2012: as an experiment, ExLibris took advantage of Nottingham City Council's offer of free market stalls during Market Week (we seemed to be the only outfit who had heard of this initiative - the Operational Planning Section keeps her ear to the ground). the first was in Bulwell on Friday, July 29th. Bulwell Market in heavy rain. We turned up horrifically early and hung around for about an hour till a stall was assigned to us. We got as far as getting the folding shelves out then decided to put them back in the car and go home, thus avoiding having to pack a load of soggy, unsaleable books into the car when the market closed. Sorry if you came looking for us. Next day, we had a stall in Hyson Green Market. The day was sunny and pleasant, but we sold very little. We were not alone, our fellow traders also complained that business was slow. We tried to liven things up by buying a shovel and a tiny cardigan from nearby stalls, but it wasn't enough. To do any good in a market, we think a bookstall would need to maintain a regular presence. We could afford neither the time nor the regular stall rent to do this.
Nottingham Green Festival, 2012. As you can see, a fine day and lots of interest in the ExLibris stall, including a member of the local constabulary, who selected some books, came up to us and actually said "who's in charge here?". Then a lady came up to us and chatted for a while; her vocation is fighting, she is licensed to carry edge weapons around Nottingham and works as a door supervisor. Could she leave her spears under the ExLibris-mobile while she looked round the festival? Certainly, no problem... Later, someone walked straight into the mast carrying our sign and pirate flag, which all crashed to the ground. No one was hurt and it was quickly set up again. Thanks to Dave and Geoff for their help.
We never did sell that book with the stupid-looking dog on the cover. So... it will probably still be available at our September House Sale, stupid-looking dog fans!
Incidentally, yes that is an electric milk float in the background left; Its potential as a travelling, eco-friendly bookstore is enormous so we examined it closely, but chatting to the owners, we found that they cost around 20 grand to do up!
Nottingham Arboretum 160th Anniversary celebration, Sunday, May 13th, 2012. On the left you can see our new, green gazebo (remember the old blue one blew to bits at the September sale last year, see below). The stalls for this event were well spread out over the Arboretum and there didn't seem to be as many people around as at the Green Festival. However, the ExLibris stall had a crowd around it most of the day. There were still people browsing and buying when it was supposed to be time for packing up and we were the last stall to leave. This was one of the rare times when there were noticeably fewer books going back into the car at the end. The wind and rain held off but at one point we were only seconds away from disaster when two little girls lent on our already overloaded plastic table. See right. The photographer was shouting "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!" at this point but was too far away to be heard. Fortunately the girls moved on. Later we came across strolling poet Dave Wood busy writing away. He gave us another poem for ExLibris:
we're someone else - that's us - we're ex
and behind the masks - the pages turn
we capture what we can and we detect
what books get thrown or in the queue to burn
and aah - the yummy ones
the scrummy ones - the funny ones - the dour
all books are good - so eat them every hour
j s - still we talk his name
nothing is lost - and all is booking gained
good causes then - the black & red we raise
that's cheap at twice the price - j s says
More of Dave's work and activities can be found at Dave's web site.
Chesterfield May Day, Monday, May 7th, 2012. Spring not having seemed to arrive, and it being bloody cold, ExLibris were pleased to get a table inside the Winding Wheel, Chesterfield's iconic venue, where you can see a burlesque show or listen to turgid political speeches. Can't wait for turgid political burlesque. Anyway, a relaxed hassle-free day, during which we sold lots of books and so relieved the load on our attic joists somewhat. However, one member of ExLibris thinks he is being stalked by an orang-utang. We are working very hard, so surely the poor fellow must be hallucinating.
2012 began in March with another outing to States of Independence, the annual event for the East Midland's independent publishers, held at De Montfort University. Again thanks to all those who helped unload and load the car, especially Geoff who came specially to help us out. Trade throughout the day was steady. This time we were accompanied by friends from Loafonastick Press, Nottingham who had the stall next to ours. Loafonastick Press is the publishing arm of People's Histreh, Nottingham's radical history group. Their two outstanding publications of the moment are "To the Castle!", about the Nottingham Reform Riots and "Damn his Charity, we'll have the Cheese for nought", about Nottingham's Great Cheese Riot.. Both can be downloaded free off the People's Histreh site. We look forward to more. On the left Chris explains the origins and philosophy of the Masked Booksellers. On the right, Geoff and Chris engaged in packing up stock at the end of the day (it's better to be taking photos at this stage).
It was about now that we were told there wasn't going to be a day for second hand book sales at one of our best outlets, Lowdham Book Festival. This news came amid rising concern for the structural integrity of the joists supporting the floor of the attic where we store our book stock, as book donations increased, now people are beginning to know about us. However, ExLibris's secretive Operational Planning Section worked hard to secure more sales for the spring of 2012.
2011 has been another successful year. ExLibris continues to hold the record for how many books can you get into a VW Polo without the police stopping you, with stalls at Leicester Independent Publisher's Fair, Lowdham Book Festival and Nottingham Green Festival. But our House Sale is where you can browse all of ExLibris's stock and 2011 was its 5th anniversary, so there was free cake!!
House sale, September, 2011: this year was the 5th anniversary of the House Sale, so the event was extended to three days. Then Gedling's only second-hand bookshop magically disappeared by Tuesday morning ("but inspector, I tell you there was a second-hand bookshop here!") This sleight of hand was achieved with the considerable help of Dave, Geoff, and Zula, who humped boxes and shelves about. Also big thanks to Cake Maestro Margaret who made the stunning 5th anniversary cake (see picture right) and other cakes for sale. She also provided evening meals for the exhausted Masked Booksellers. Thanks as well to Lynda who also made cakes for us to sell. All cakes disappeared very quickly - and indeed it was noticeable that certain Masked Booksellers were hanging around the cake display area on the flimsyest of excuses eg: "I'll just tidy the fiction"...
Another highlight was the silent auction of a scarce SIGNED copy of Mrs Mary Whitehouse's autobiography "Who Does She Think She Is?", with an intro by Malcolm Muggeridge. The list of eager bidders for this sad litany of bile and biggotry was:
This year's proceeds of around £560 went to Hayward House Cancer Care and Nottingham and Notts Refugee Forum. A big THANK YOU to Dave, Geoff, Zula, Margaret and Lynda, and of course to everyone who donated books and other stuff. To all those who bought books, thank you and:
Some pictures of the House Sale below:
|The operation is very cardboard box based...||Chris and Dave putting out the stock||Non-fiction in the garage||Fiction in the back porch|
|Browser frenzy on Saturday morning...||The Cake Department||Rare shot of Margaret (centre); she usually shuns publicity and almost never gives interviews||Sales throughout Saturday are brisk|
|Our stock of children's books will need to be replenished before next year||Geof inspects remaining stock||Masked Bookseller surrounded by a web of guy ropes on windy Monday||Despite many guy ropes, the wind blows the gazebo frame into a collection of spare parts.|
The Encyclopaedias cometh... The printed encyclopaedia has clearly had it. In these days of Wiki, no one wants to shell out hundreds of pounds for a set of information which is going to be out of date in a few years. Curiously, just before this year's House Sale, ExLibris were given no less than FIVE sets of encyclopaedias, none old enough to be really interesting - unless you want to join in the debate about whether punched cards or punched tape is better for storing computer programs. We've never been given any sets of encyclopaedias before. Now, like Nottingham City Transport buses, lots of them come at once. The bigger sets were about ten or fifteen volumes and not suprprisingly, we still had them when we closed on Monday, despite setting a ludicrously low price. We returned a set of Britannica to their donor but what to do with the rest? By an odd coincidence, in a garden up the road there was a skip with yet another set of encyclopaedias in it (picture left)! What is this? The Night of the Encyclopaedias?? The obscene sight of books in a skip is clearly anathema to all Masked Booksellers and not an option - even Dan Brown goes in the recycling. We eventually got rid of our encyclopaedia glut on the local freecycle network, or gave them to people who came to the house to collect other things. The impression we have is that they're valueless, but if you're desperate for a 1960s set of Encyclopaedia Britannica, on abebooks they'll set you back around a fiver plus rather a lot of postage. Or we could put you in touch with our Britannica lady, who'll probably be only too glad to let you have her set for nothing.
On the right, we see a Masked Bookseller examining a serious outbreak of giant encyclopaedias in Alexandria, Egypt. Must be the infernal heat.
House Sale Aftermath... On the right is Philipp collecting his signed copy of Mary Whitehouse's autobiography "Who Does She Think She Is?", with an introduction by Malcolm Muggeridge, and presenting a giant cheque for £5.78 in payment. You will remember that at the ExLibris House Sale, Philipp was the successful bidder in a silent auction for the book from a long list of one bidder. You will also note that Philipp is wearing a shopping bag over his head. Well, if you'd just bought a copy of Mary Whitehouse's autobiography, with an introduction by Malcolm Muggeridge, would you want people to recognize you? I think not. Philipp says he was smiling inside his bag and that he is looking forward to exploring the broad, sunlit uplands of Mrs Whitehouse's moral highground.
Left is a photo of a cheque for £280 being presented to Hayward House Cancer Care Trust. This is half the proceeds from the ExLibris House Sale, the other half goes to Nottingham and Notts refugee Forum's Destitution Fund. See if you can spot the Masked Booksellers.
The two un-masked people in blue are members of the excellent Hayward House nursing team, Sandra (left) and Jane (right). The story even made the Nottingham Evening Post (below right).
Nottingham Green Festival 2011: in May, ExLibris were out at the Nottingham Green Festival in the Arboretum, Nottingham. The day promised bad bookstall weather, but there were only a few showers early on - then one just after we finished packing up. Despite high winds, our ExLibris sign and pirate flag flew bravely on our mast throughout. Takings not as good as last year, probably because of the weather, but might have been even less had we not tried a new display arrangement in which all the tables and shelves were clustered together centrally inside the gazebo. We first tried this at Lowdham Book Festival; it keeps the stock sheltered from the rain better and gives the browsers more space. Forgot to bring polythene sheets though, despite knowing rain risk - what are we like? Thanks to Dave for coming over specially to ExLibris HQ to help out and lending us a table, and all the loungers from the Sparrow's Nest/People's Histreh stall next door who helped us pack the car afterwards.
Sorry, no photos.
Lowdham Book Festival 2011: a pleasant day out in a marquee surrounded by book dealers who are desperately trying to make a living at this. And there's us with our 60p Delia Smith and them with their's for six quid! They are not unpleasant to us though. Thanks to Dave for help with book moving and loan of table, also Sue and Nick for taking over the stall and giving us a break (photo right).
States of Independence 2011: the first 2011 outing for ExLibris was to States of Independence in March at De Montfort University. This is a book festival in a day, with book launches, readings, authors discussing their work and the problems of publishing. States of Independence is jointly organised by Five Leaves publishing and De Montfort Creative Writing Team.
ExLibris's cheap books went down very well with the students, one of whom helped us carry the stock in from the car. Sorry, we don't know your name but thanks! Thanks also to Sally for bringing us coffee when we arrived. Takings were quite good, with poetry especially popular; with a growing fan club among the students and it being an easy day, we may well return next year if the organizers allow.
ExLibris Out Front (see picture left) was a new idea first tried out in 2010 by Nottingham FMB group ExLibris. We all know how a book operation based on donations can get submerged in tatty copies of Danielle Steel, Linda La Plante, Dan Brown, or even... Jeffrey Archer. Sorry, but if you want to be a Masked Bookseller, you have to be prepared to face this sort of thing without throwing up - if you are a Masked Bookseller, your group may already have its own policy of "all Jeffrey Archers straight in the recycling bin". So this year we decided - during a spell of fine weather - to put all the dross in boxes on our front garden wall with a big sign saying everything 10p, stick your money through the letter box (which was propped open with a bit of wood). We were astonished to find that money started appearing on the mat in our front portch. But a few days later, we noticed something else... something far more sinister. PEOPLE WERE LEAVING THEIR OLD UNWANTED BOOKS IN OUR BOXES!!! The group was split between those who went "AAAARRRGH!!! We're not getting rid of any dross - we're going to be submerged in Lady Di biographies." and those who said "Great! The neighbourhood is taking part." Then, perhaps mercifully, the weather broke.
In 2011, we tried it again for a few days during the strangely warm, sunny days of late September, and raised £2.80, not bad at 10p per book - some people give extra as a donation. No books added this time - we think.
We have had recent emails from Marjorie in Dewsbury, informing us that there have been upheavals at Charity Books (see reports of CB's past glories below).
As far as we understand it, Ron recently sprang from his sickbed and threw himself into the swing of things with a vengeance. However, it soon became apparent that some kind of seething resentment had been brewing, and he began spreading rumours about the Federation Of Masked Booksellers that were plainly exaggerated or untrue. (At least, Marjorie guesses that Ron was the source of the rumours; as they coincided with his return, but we will have to say “allegedly”.)
Rumours included statements that the FMB was insisting that all masks should be straight, that FMB rules would ban Janet from bringing her corgis to book stalls, and that all pounds, shillings and pence prices printed on old books had to be covered over. This of course caused some consternation, especially from Janet as she had made special all-weather coats for her corgis. She expressed her feelings by painting “The money we send to the FMB could save us £3,500 per month, which would fund our gazebos” on the side of her Ford Ka.
Tension in Dewsbury ran high. Dennis pointed out that Charity Books was benefiting from FMB membership by the “swap unsold books” scheme, and that nowhere near £3,500 was going to the Federation each month - in fact nothing was. But Janet said that that was painted on her Ford Ka, so it must be right.
Eventually, Ron insisted on a vote to see whether or not Charity Books should remain in the FMB. Marjorie and Dennis were against a vote as they pointed out that a vote to Leave could cause serious harm, and a huge reduction in books being donated. However, the vote did take place at the beginning of March, and the result was very close: Ron and Janet voted Leave, and Marjory and Dennis voted Remain. Janet insisted that her corgis should be allowed votes too, as it didn’t matter that they didn’t understand the issues, and so it is with a heavy heart that we have to announce Dexit – Dewsbury’s Charity Books is preparing to leave the Federation of Masked Booksellers.
Janet has since realised that £3,500 per month was wrong, although it was on the side of her Ka, and has asked to be allowed to change her mind, but Ron said that the people – and corgis – have spoken, and she should get over it. Apparently, Dexit means Dexit.
It is at this point that we can reveal that many concessions had been made to Charity Books, Dewsbury, over the years. Their membership was upheld even when they decided that only one member at a time need be masked. They were even granted an opt-out of the Masked Booksellers scheme to allow booksellers from other groups to volunteer with each others’ stalls. However, none of these special concessions appear to have set at rest the rumour about straight masks.
The next step for Charity Books is uncertain. Ron happily proclaimed that he didn’t have a clue what would happen next, but it would be a Dewsbury Dexit. He said they were looking forward to ignoring pesky FMB rules, such as those specifying the maximum weight and size of boxes of books that can be safely lifted: "Dewsbury people have always regarded the freedom to injure one's back and arm muscles as fundamental."
Meanwhile, Marjory is planning to leave Charity Books and set up on her own, but the remaining members are unwilling to let her take any books or the folding table.
As we see it, the future for book rescue in Dewsbury looks bleak. The environment will suffer. With Dewsbury gone, will not the FMB become increasingly controlled by Nottingham's 'ExLibris'?
2012: Just a quick update from Dewsbury! We had a slow start this year, but paid another visit to the Bus Museum (see photo left), and took £23.89 for local charities. Ron retired recently, and has taken over some of Dennis's tasks - though Dennis still refuses to let anyone else maintain the folding table! Our stall at The Slippery Belle Burlesque and Cabaret at Dewsbury Town Hall in May also did surprisingly well in many ways, with Janet finding us new masks to wear for the occasion! However the event was responsible for an unwelcome return of Dennis's old problem. We are also investigating running a stall - with some of Janet's delicious shortbread as well as books - at "Dewsbury on Sea" in August. Janet is always prepared for all occasions! Finally, on the left, here are some of us un-masked! It's so good to see Marjory amongst us again.
Best wishes to all other Masked Booksellers from Charity Books, Dewsbury.
2011: this year, despite Marjory's long spell in hospital, we've managed to get out to several local events. We made £42.35 at Dewsbury Bus Museum Open Day, which is one of our favourites outings. Once again Dennis worked his magic with our temperamental folding table (despite recurring bouts of sciatica). Here are a couple of photos of us in action, the stall going full pelt on the left and on the right, Janet is prepared for all weathers as usual.
In a hectic year, Booksavers had a stall (sometimes more official than others) at many outdoor events in Ipswich, including the Sandcastle Competition, Southwold Model Railway Exhibition, Lavenham Summer Craft Fair, the Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Show and Autojumble, Beccles Carnival Family Fun Weekend, Rougham Air Display, and of course Long Melford Midsummer Craft & Country Show, so sales have been steady throughout 2010. But in April there was an unpleasant incident when the the stall was told to leave the Buttermarket shopping centre by security guards, who don't like our masks. And not great readers clearly. Booksavers soon came up with Flashbooks - a book stall that can appear suddenly and then disappear at the approach of goons or rozzers. Each member of the group is assigned something to carry - a bag of books, the Booksavers sign, the inevitable paste table, the folding shelves, the sandwiches. We all meet at a pre-arranged spot in the Buttermarket, mask up and set up the stall. We have done this a few times now, the shoppers expect us so trade is generally brisk. We keep an eye out for goons, but have found it's best to move the stall on after about 30 minutes. Then Baz came up with a brilliant twist; what if there were two stalls? Stall One sets up, then about half an hour later, when the goons are making their way towards it, it shuts down and Stall Two goes into action. Need we go on? This has had the goons running around in circles all Saturday afternoon - the most fun you can have in Suffolk with your clothes on and it's all for charity. Sadly no photos to post because of a problem with the card in Mel's old digital. We meet down the Brewer's Arms, Orford Street, most Fridays.
With stalls at Walsall Martial Arts Festival, the Beer Festival and the Book and Independent Publisher's Fair we manged to raise £242 this year. It would have been more if the Spring Happening hadn't been cancelled. We acquired three boxes of "Black Country Recipes", but they're not selling very well. This is surprising as traditional Black Country dishes like "boiled celery" can be tricky to get right. Any ideas?
Ahoj from Cerne Knihy in beautiful Ceske Budejovice. We call our group Cerne Knihy after English TV sitcom - we all take turns to be Bernard, Manny and Fran! Our masks are Balaclavy from Trampingu shop. Terezka's cousin is policeman, so they do not harras us for being in masks. Also let us move stall under arches when raining. Terezka was supposed to take photo of stall for you, but for some reason her picture is mostly wedding car speeding around square on Saturday. But look closely and you can just see our stall behind car. Czechs love books almost as much as food and before Velvet Revolution, they keep their books, but now we have capitalism, they want different ones, so they give all their old books to us and we raise much money for orphanage and similar. But like ExLibris, we get problem with "dross"! Only it is not Lady Di but books on Marx and Lenin and in Russian that no one want - even for one Hal. Terezka says we could start making tasteful, hand-made paper, but does anyone have a better idea?
Breaking news! We have just received a card of tasteful, hand-made paper announcing the engagement of Pavel and Terezka; heartiest congratulations from all FMB!
Still no recent news from groups in Cardiff, Solihull, Brixton, Gateshead, Shilbottle, Thornton Heath, Dimboola, &c, &c. Torquay, we're all glad the unpleasantness in the Princess Gardens only attracted non-custodial sentences and hope you'll be masked-up behind a pile of books again soon.
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