One of the things we’ve learned during the four plus years we’ve been going is that you, our subscribers, are the kind of people who like to keep in touch. You write to us (such heart-warming letters); if you happen to be in London you visit (you’re always welcome – apart from the pleasure of seeing you, it gives us an excuse to drag ourselves away from the computer); and we often enjoy a chat with those of you who phone us when the time comes to renew.
So you may already have spoken to Jennie, our very welcome newest (and youngest) recruit. There’s so much going on in the office these days that we really had to get some full-time help, and luckily for us along Jennie came. Not only does she answer the phone and keep abreast of orders, but she speeds about London on her bike like Mercury, delivering to bookshops and even following Hazel’s bus home when she’s absentmindedly left her specs behind.
Jennie has also got to grips with the franking machine – a hostile looking contraption that stands there simply waiting to confuse and confound. We hesitated about whether we should have a franking machine at all – it seems so much more friendly to receive an envelope with a proper stamp, and we really didn’t even mind the licking. But in the end, we must admit, financial rather than aesthetic considerations won out.
In March we were up in Suffolk, launching Rosemary Sutcliff’s Blue Remembered Hills, the first of the Slightly Foxed Editions, at Browsers friendly bookshop in Woodbridge. Our guest was Ronald Blythe, whose piece on pocket editions you’ll already have seen in the spring issue, which we launched at the same time.
Ever since then copies have been simply flying out of the office, and this makes us optimistic for sales of the second in our series, published simultaneously with this issue – Diana Holman-Hunt’s darkly funny My Grandmothers and I – her memoir of a childhood spent between two very different characters, one of them the eccentric widow of the great Pre-Raphaelite painter (see p. 20). Remember, these are limited, numbered editions, so when they’re sold, we won’t be reprinting. If, as some subscribers have suggested, you would like to be sent each new book automatically as it is published, we’ll be happy to save you the same number each time, and you can send us a cheque or credit card details when you receive it. They’ll make a charming – and highly readable – set.
Speaking of launches, we’ll be celebrating the arrival of the summer issue on Wednesday, 18 June, between 6.30 and 8.30 p.m. at Dulwich Books, 6 Croxted Road, West Dulwich. We’ll be sending out invitations to local subscribers, but as always we’d be delighted to see any of you – or your book-loving friends – who happen to be in the area, to raise a convivial glass.
And a bit of cheering news to end with. According to a recent survey in the Bookseller, 2007 was the first year in a decade in which more independent bookshops opened than closed (81 against 72). Hurrah!