The publishing industry has rallied round to help the independent Big Green Bookshop after one of its owners sent out a desperate tweet appealing for customers because they were “seriously skint”.
Orders placed yesterday (25th April) totalled £1,000 which is around three times as much usual, according to co-owner Tim West. Authors have also offered to name characters in their books after customers who use the shop, as well as signing copies. Meanwhile staff from fellow bookshops have travelled across London in their lunchbreaks “to show solidarity”.
West said it had been a quiet month in the Wood Green store, which is why his fellow co-owner Simon Key had tweeted from the shop's account, @Biggreenbooks, on Sunday evening: “I'm off to bed. From 9am tomorrow you really need to start buying some books off of us. We're seriously skint. 6 days to pay bills.x” The message was retweeted more than 2,000 times.
West told The Bookseller: “We’d had a very busy time but had got to the point when we realised we should focus on selling books and making money. Simon never tells me anything about what he’s going to tweet. Simon sent that tweet and then fell asleep. [Without this] it would have been a bit tight. He just does it and then tells me after, like with the Piers Morgan tweets [Key tweeted out the entire Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Bloomsbury_to the presenter in February]. I just say, ‘keep it up’. He has definitely got a feel for Twitter. I am always impressed. Let’s face it, we’re a back street, Wood Green bookshop and we have more than 24,000 Twitter followers.”
The store has been overwhelmed by the response: “This give us a buffer for next month. Christmas is a long time ago and also far away so this is useful.It was just a gentle reminder but the response has been fantastic. It has been amazing. People have been buying books in their hundreds. The response is what we expect from our customers and the people of Twitter. When we say help, they help.”
While The Bookseller was interviewing West, three staff from the London Review Bookshop had travelled from their store in Bloomsbury in their lunchbreak “to show solidarity” and buy books from the Big Green Bookshop. West said: “I’ve been so busy with people calling and coming into the shop that I’m still counting up all the orders. But we’ve had £1,000 orders placed today. We’d normally take £300-400 on a weekday. I still have 300 emails to go through so and Simon is still going through Twitter messages. We’re had new customers come in specially, older customers who had forgotten us – and it’s easy to forget that is why we do thing to remind them.”
On Tuesday (25th April), Key tweeted from the bookshop account: “Today has been the best day we've ever had at the shop, I think. Thank you. Not only have we sold lots of books, we've also has the most amazing support you could ever hope for. Thank you so so much. we're still catching up with your comments, orders & messages, same time tomorrow? X”
West said the situation reminded him of how the industry had supported the store following a robbery of £600. Sam Jordison, co-director of Galley Beggar Press, organised a crowdfunding page which raised thousands: “It was around this time last year that there was the robbery and people rallied round then. People are amazing. We’ve also had some authors rally round: Andy Riley [of the Bunny Suicides series (Hachette imprint Hodder & Stoughton)] is donating artwork, while authors such as Eli Goldstone of Strange Heart Beating (Granta) are signing books which people buy from us – lots of people are ordering this book, it’s one of the most popular ones at the moment.”
Novelist Maggie Harcourt tweeted an unusual offer from her account, @maggieharcourt: “So if you buy my current book, Unconventional [Usborne], through @Biggreenbooks this week, let me know and I'll name a minor character after you.”
Fellow writer Erin Kelly tweeted on Monday that she would reward customers who bought He Said She Said (Hodder & Stoughton) from the shop: “If you order #hesaidshesaid from this excellent and in-need shop I'll send you a signed bookplate. Supporting indie bookshops makes you sexy.”