Saturday, 30 March 2013

Our blog is two years old today

Our blog is two years old.

What have we achieved in the past two years? Here is a list of our original blogging aims compared to what we have actually achieved.

Aim 1: Become the best blog that ever existed.

Result 1: Er...

Aim 2: Take over the world.

Result 2: Um...

Aim 3: Er...

Result 3: Oh.

In other words, things are going quite nicely with the blog, thank you very much.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Easter opening times

The Easter bunny has commanded us as follows:

- Thou shalt not open on Good Friday, for it is a day of quiet reflection.

- Thou shall open gladly on Easter Saturday to bring joy unto the shoppers;

- Thou shalt not open on Easter Sunday for there may be the eating of many Easter eggs;

- Thou shalt not open on Easter Monday; instead, thy shall take up thy walking boots to high plains or Derbyshire or somewhere;

- Thou shall open again on Tuesday.

(After Christian satirist Adrian Plass. With apologies to Christians, other religions, athiets and anyone, really.) Our opening times are here.)

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

New name for books?

"I'd love to talk to you some more about your history with printed information."

A great quote from Robot & Frank, asked by a patronising man (Jeremy Strong) tasked with digitising a library (ie chucking all of its books) to one of its longtime regulars (Frank Langella) - a book reader who is "so square" he is "practically avant garde" in the age of the ebook.

An interesting watch for fellow book-heads.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Cruising for a browsing?

Bookshop browsing is, as it turns out, a good thing according to this piece in The Bookseller.

New market research suggests that healthy bricks and mortar bookshops lead to a healthy publishing industry, while closed bookshops don't just shift sales to the internet: many of the sales disappear altogether.

Market analyst Douglas McCabe says: “We estimate that when a bookshop closes, about a third of its sales transfer to another bookshop. This means as much as two-thirds of sales disappear.

"Some of this spend doubtless migrates online, but much of it vanishes from the book sector entirely.”

He added that nothing should be "considered too extravagant" in efforts to keep bookshops going.

We agree, obviously. There is a lot we can do that, say, Amazon can't do. In fact, we'd encourage everyone to treat us with extravagance. Chocolates will do, but only posh ones that come individually wrapped inside ribbon-tied boxes.

The article also says that, with the exception of the Fifty Shades trilogy, social media isn't a great way of shifting book units. So stop reading this blog post immediately. It's stopping you from buying new books. Stop reading. Stop it. Oh, you're so rebellious.

We feel positive about the future. Our customers are loyal and our booksellers are passionate. And we also think that lots of our books happen to be brilliant too.

Some time soon, take a few moments to have a browse. It's an extravagance worth taking.

You're still reading, aren't you? Stop it.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Googly Eye Books

Here's something for the weekend: googly eyes on books.

Googly Eye Books does what it says on the, er, paperback. They even have an A-Z list of featured authors.

Have a look. As it were.

Spotted by @John_the_Monkey, @roadccdave & The Poke.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

A catchy little collection: @GIANTmicrobes plush toys

We've been feeling a bit peaky here at Blackwell's, and we've just worked out why.

In our medical department on the first floor, if you're lucky you could catch cholera, malaria, swine flu, the common cold and the clap. The ailments come courtesy of our uber-cute Giant Microbes, plush toys that look surprisingly similar to their microscopic counterparts. Well. As similar as a 7" cuddly toy can look...

Pictured above left is chickenpox, which isn't in stock yet but paid a visit to its mates on our first floor yesterday.

Next to that is chickenpox hanging out with its friends, all of whom are in stock and are waiting for you to buy them. Clockwise from top right:
- a brain cell that's just graduated;
- chickenpox;
- bird flu;
- gangrene;
- salmonella (which, in a certain light, looks like Phil Oakey from The Human League);
- MRSA complete with superbug cape.

They're ideal companions to any diseases textbook, and are even available in petri dishes! Pictures by Vicki, our medical buyer.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

This is the kind of feedback we love - thank you ‏@HeightDeficient & @RachStirrup

A tweet from January which we missed (whoops, sorry!): "The local blackwells has a whole stand for whovian literature. Brilliant..."

And yesterday: "Was in @BlackwellMcr with my friend recently and we literally squealed--they have an entire section dedicated to 'Whovian Literature' :D"

The Whovian Literature display has now dematerialised, having been replaced by Winston Churchill, Florence Nightingale and other people in our Extraordinary Lives promotion.

But many of the books are still in stock. Maybe you could set off on an intergalactic adventure, er, among our shelves to find the books. Sigh. That analogy was rubbish. We wish our bookshop was a TARDIS.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Semiotext(e) offer now on

Semiotext(e) are a brilliant and provocative publisher, and we're delighted to be running an offer for them at the moment.

They are one of America’s most influential independent presses. Their works of cutting edge theory and avant-garde literature will make your mind boggle... and bring a smile to your face. We have a table of their work at £2-off.

Click through to the Blackwell's Pinterest board to see some of the books on offer. If you're in the shop, look for the poster (pictured) on the first floor.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Book launch haiku

Thank you to everyone who came along to last night's book launch for James Higgerson's The Almost Lizard, and to Legend Press for their invaluable help. As a, um, treat for our performers, we wrote them a haiku each. Here they are again with links to our performers' websites. With apologies to every poet ever.

Event haiku:

Words and words and words / and words and booze and words and / booze and booze and words. 

Chris Killen haiku:*

Simple summary: / award winning film maker / and pizza eater.
[more about Chris here]

Rodge Glass haiku:

Is that Ryan Giggs / in Rodge’s garden again / or is it a gnome?
[more about Rodge here

Sam Mills haiku:

Industry destroys. / Oh I think I’ve got the wrong / dark Satanic Mills.
[more about Sam here

James Higgerson haiku:

James Higgerson: / so wasteful of syllables / I might run out of
[more about James here

* By coincidence, Chris Killen also read a haiku or three and is, not surprisingly, much better at writing them than we are.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Blackwell's Manchester bookseller shortlisted for Bookseller Industry Award

Our very own Socrates Adams has been shortlisted for Young Bookseller of the Year in the Bookseller Industry Awards.

Socrates is an award-winning filmmaker, acclaimed novelist… and now a leading UK bookseller. He manages our Business Centre, which provides books direct to universities, the NHS and many other organisations.

His shortlisting for the Sue Butterworth Young Bookseller of the Year award, sponsored by HarperCollins, comes alongside two other successes for us. Marion Akehurst of our Wellcome Collection shop has the nod for Manager of the Year, while Blackwell's itself has been shortlisted in the National Bookseller category alongside the likes of Foyles and Eason's. See the full BIA shortlists here.

Our Dedicated Accounts Manager Sue Chapman works with Socrates and will be a voice familiar to many of our account customers. She said: "Socrates is prepared to tackle anything. He's popular with both staff and customers, and although he may sometimes have a dodgy taste in music, Socrates is a pleasure to work alongside!"

The winners will be announced on May 13.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

What is the Folio Society?

The brand new Folio Literary Prize appears to want to better the Booker with its focus on less populist literature. We're intrigued. Let the battle of the prizes commence.

But who is its sponsor, the Folio Society?

They're a London publisher whose co-founder set up Pan books (of Pan Macmillan fame) and have comissioned pieces from the likes of Carol Ann Duffy, Quentin Blake and Rowan Williams. Members of the society receive books in return for their subscription.

Some of their special editions are fancy hardbacks. Very fancy. The four pictured here will set you back, in total, over £1,200. Of course, they have much cheaper books too - but their limited editions are worth a browse.

Bow down, mortals, to our @DCComics Absolute Editions! #newDCday

We now have a load of DC Comics Absolute Editions in.

Imagine Batman printed and bound as a beautiful slipcase hardback. (Batman the comic, not the real person who definitely actually existed.)

With extra scripts and notes, these are very lovely essential high-end purchases for devotees of Doctor Manhattan, V and Superman.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

The moment our app idea was thoroughly rejected by Charlie Brooker

Charlie Brooker:
"Q: What problem do you have that you wish could be solved by an app? I'm going to create some apps. I say "create", I mean "imagine"."

Blackwell's Manchester to Charlie Brooker:
"An app where a virtual Charlie Brooker appears in our bookshop and breakdances furiously until someone buys your book."

Charlie Brooker to Blackwell's Manchester:
"Never going to happen."

Blackwell's Manchester:
Designs virtual Charlie anyway using packing tape, poster tubes, magazine cutouts and lazers.

See the apps that made it: Two apps that will transform your life.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Reader! Read Faster! bestseller awards for February 2013

The inaugural Reader! Read Faster! bestseller awards span the digestive system, law textbooks and a debut from a Manchester-based novelist.

We publish the bestsellers for Blackwell's Manchester on this blog because, ultimately, if you are buying the books, there is no better recommendation. You can read the bestsellers here. We split them into top five fiction, top five academic books and top five gift & stationery items. In addition to listing our top five top books, for the first time in February we also now give awards for particularly strong performances.

We give a FASTEST! award to the absolute bestsellers of the month: books that did much better than we expected because you, the reader, can't get enough of them. In our February bestseller list, this award goes to The Digestive System by Margaret E. Smith, Dion G. Morton, and to Tort Law by Kirsty Horsey & Erika Rackley.

Our FAST! award is for those just behind the leaders, books that still did incredibly well. Think of it as a 'commended' accolade. For February, this goes to Ten Things I've Learnt About Love by Sarah Butler and to Public Law by Mark Elliott & Robert Thomas.

Well done to all. Oh, what do the authors win? Satisfaction, flattery and a tiny sprinkling of smugness!

Thursday, 7 March 2013

A possible rebranding of World Book Day

Or possibly not.

We've been out delivering World Book Day books to schools recently. All that travelling has possibly been doing funny things to our mind.

Editor's note:
It seems that the popular opinion of our booksellers here is that this is the worst post Reader! Read Faster! has ever done. Of particular disappointment is the attempt to pun "March" with "mallard" on the spine of the red book. It is the most brazen attempt at punnery since Shakespeare wedged a "grave" joke into Mercutio's dying comments. Blackwell's Manchester would like to apologise to, er, itself for letting itself down. We promise to have 97% fewer duck puns in future.

The red is dead: our new look blog

Welcome to our new-look blog.

The angry, tabloid red of our previous design has gone. And although we've kept the same Blogger template,  we've made it look all fancy and that. Well. As fancy as Blogger can get. Oh and we're not capitalising the titles of blog posts any more because posting to Twitter is annoying.

If you're really clever, you'll notice the colours of the University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University in our design.

We've kept the name, which, let us not forget, is stolen shamelessly from Driver Drive Faster whose keyboardist can be spotted on our ground floor running our fiction department. Here they are performing at Sounds From The Other City.


Monday, 4 March 2013


Our event on Friday 15 March has two new things. A shortened URL and a poster! Woo! Do come and support James Higgerson's first novel launch - you also get Sam Mills, Rodge Glass and Chris Killen too, all for the price of nothing!

Do share. The Facebook event is here.

Here's the Twitter-friendly URL:

And here's the poster: Click for bigger.

Friday, 1 March 2013


Don't know if anyone caught the story in the Guardian the other day about EL James and her next book, but it's worth a read.

Click here for a readable size.