What doesn't kill us . . .

<p>First day back after New Year, revenue from Christmas sales lodged in the bank and having had a few days off celebrating in London, there is a bounce to my step and an albeit croaky song in my throat. Clearly this cannot last. Having absorbed the news that Murder One is closing (if ever there was a bookseller who deserved to be in business for ever it was Maxim Jakubowski), and that specialist art bookseller Shipley has already gone, my mood darkens.</p>
<p>Still I am by nature an optimist and I enter the year believing that the universal gloom among the commentators cannot all be right, and that just perhaps it may be possible to survive 2009. Running a bookshop in the uber-depths of the countryside (our nearest neighbours all have four legs) is not for the faint-hearted, but what makes it work is the commitment of our customers, many of whom hover satisfactorily on the borderline between bibliophilia and bibliomania.&#8232;&#8232;</p>
<p>The year has begun brightly with good sales in the shop and online, and I have started to plan our next bookshop event&mdash;a Valentine's Day party complete with lush guitar music and heart-shaped food. So here are my top predictions for 2009:</p>
<p>1. Contrary to the hype the recession will not turn the nation into one big reading group, but those people who love books will go on buying them in sufficient numbers to ensure a few good bookshops remain.</p>
<p>2. The Man Booker will be won by an author that the book-buying public has actually heard of (surely by the law of averages this has to happen sometime)</p>
<p>3. More schools will close their libraries and allocate the space to 'knowledge/information-centres/pods' (it's easier than paying for a librarian). &#8232;&#8232;</p>
<p>Nearer to home I predict a continuation of my battle with Herefordshire council, who are currently demanding that we remove all our roadsigns so that we can participate in a mass exercise in telepathy whereby those travelling through the area become steadily more aware that there is a large bookshop that they would like to visit. &#8232;&#8232;</p>
<p>Still in the words of my long-suffering colleague and business partner Edward's beloved Nietzsche (who he is fond of telling customers actually hailed from County Kerry), &quot;what doesn't kill us makes us stronger&quot;. Courage mon braves and best of luck for 2009. We may all need it.</p>