Social media rescue

So there I was, all ready to write a column on how the book pages of our national newspapers are completely ignoring the digital revolution—let me know if you spot an e-book review anywhere—when a tiny bookshop, about the size of a literary editor's kitchen, made a heartfelt plea online.

The Big Green Bookshop in Wood Green was born from the ashes of the Waterstone's that closed down in 2007. The management team, Tim and Simon, were flabbergasted that their profitable store had been shut but, rather than moan about it, they took their redundancy money and a bank loan and opened up their own bookstore.

And since then, the entire life of the shop has been chronicled online. A blog was born that charted the project from idea to finding a location, choosing a name and getting volunteers to help fill the shelves.

Once the doors were open things stepped up a gear with a transactional website, more blogging, an email newsletter for loyalty card-holders and a notorious bookshop Twitter feed, all of which they have used to support their amazing diary of signings, community events and, er, a knitting circle. So it is perhaps fitting that now they find themselves struggling, they have turned to the internet and social media to help them out.

At the end of February, their email newsletter explained their predicament. Unless business improved over the coming months they might have to close. They asked their 1,000 loyalty card customers to buy just one book during their third birthday week. That would pretty much ensure their survival.

At this stage I should point out that I don't think any business has a divine right to succeed. Times are tough. Lots of bookshops are struggling. What makes BGB different is that they have turned to the internet's spirit of community, the very philosophy that helped them in their first days, to help turn things around.

You see, that one email was picked up by the many BGB Twitter fans, and word is spreading. Bloggers have posted messages of support, their plea has been retweeted hundreds of times and, subsequently, the shop has had some of its best trading days ever, including visits from lots of first-time customers.

It is a heartwarming story but they are not in the clear yet. There is more to be done . . . and so, this coming Wednesday, the shop will be opening late to host a "Tweet-up", an event arranged on Twitter where a group of people who normally only interact through the internet meet up for real, in this case to buy books. This was not set up by BGB, but by their online friends. Some of us will bring plonk, others will bake cakes. It promises to be a great night, and it might just help this wonderful bookselling enterprise survive. I hope to see you there.