Time and tide, as they say, wait for no man, and the past few months have seen some significant changes in the office of Slightly Foxed.
Our marketing manager Kathleen, who did wonderful work in getting copies of SF into bookshops when we were starting out, has just moved, with her two small children and her designer husband James (who draws the foxes which often appear on our covers), to become Events Manager at Robert Topping’s new bookshop in Bath. We miss her greatly, but we keep in close touch (anyone who’s ever been part of Slightly Foxed still continues, somehow, to be ‘on the strength’) and we’ll be launching our Winter issue at the Bath bookshop.
Fortunately for us Steph, who manages our publicity with seamless efficiency, has taken on Kathleen’s work, supported by a new recruit – Murphy, an English springer spaniel with an exuberant personality whom Steph and her husband recently adopted from Battersea Dogs’ Home. We saw a lot of Murphy to begin with, since he tended to chew up the furniture if left at home. But he’s calmed down now, is respectful to Pugwash and gets on well with Coco, a cuddly cocker spaniel who’s also a recent recruit. Coco comes in one day a week and brings along her owner Alarys, who does sterling work helping us process orders, man the phones, and generally keep the show on the road.
There have been other changes and departures too. Gail has been helping her father to move from a house in which her family has lived for forty years, while Hazel has been up and down to Yorkshire following her mother-in-law’s death. In both cases there was the poignant task of clearing bookshelves, which in Gail’s case threw up a great many practical books and one delightful find, a first edition of Elizabeth David’s Italian Food. The Yorkshire house yielded a nostalgic collection of hardbacks that epitomized the middleclass reading of the period between the wars – Rupert Brooke and the Georgian poets, the nineteenth-century Russian classic novels in Constance Garnett’s translations, Rosamund Lehmann, Eric Linklater, Mary Webb . . . a quiet world of publishing that disappeared long ago.
On which subject we see that today’s Times discusses the now accepted practice by big bookshop chains of making publishers pay large sums for their books to be hyped and prominently displayed as ‘Choices’. Iniquitous? Perhaps, says the leader, but surely it’s just part of a world where everything has its price and where we never know whether we’re being subjected to insidious ‘product placement’. Well we do think it’s iniquitous. It misleads the public, it doesn’t give smaller publishers a chance, and it effectively restricts choice.
So, having got that off our chest, let’s turn to pleasanter things. Christmas, for instance. We know the summer holidays are only just over, but remembering how well-organized many of you are we thought we’d better catch you early. While we’re delighted to report that Slightly Foxed is in good order, we always need help with finding new subscribers and replacing those who, for whatever reason, decide to drop out.
Time and again we’ve proved that personal recommendation is extremely effective, and we wondered if, this year, those of you who love Slightly Foxed as we do, might consider including a specially designed SF flyer with Christmas cards to appropriate friends. If so, please do let us know how many you would like.