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Picking a good book

Hello! It’s my first Blog. I’m sure this will evolve and change over time but I wanted to start off by saying hello and thank you for visiting the Fourbears Books Website. The plan is to use the blog to chat about books I’ve read, things I love about books and general musings about working in the book industry and being an Indie shop in competition with a giant.

I’m sure you know who I am, but in case you don’t my name is Alex and Fourbears is my shop. It’s been such an incredible journey, and I can’t thank my loved ones enough for their support to get me to where we are now, and also the superstar and gentleman that is Brodie for setting this website up for me, and his beautiful illustrations that you’ll see throughout the pages.

I don’t think there is anything better than a good book. However, finding the good book is not always straightforward. When I opened the shop I was often a sucker for the sales pitch from the Publishers, and I soon found out that although they say a book is great, it didn’t mean I agreed, and more importantly, you lovely customers didn’t want to buy that particular book either. Supermarkets are flooded with heavily discounted books, usually because the author is famous and the books on display in other non Indie shops are not always the centre of attention on merit.

Some of our best selling books are when we’ve recommend a certain book to customers. It was because of this I also discovered that if I didn’t enjoy a book, I really struggle to sell it. My heart isn’t in the sales pitch. My eyes glaze over and I sometimes physically shrug and go ‘meh’ when describing the book. No one is going to be inspired to read that book. I want customers to love their choices and come back

for more. I want children to finish a book and say “Can I read another book, please”. One of the best reviews I had from Jacob, the 11 year old at home, was when he finished ‘Good Detectives’ by Jenny McLachlan he asked if he could read the next in the series the same day. He was quite disappointed when I told him that a sequel hadn’t been written yet.

I promise my customers if I tell you I like (or love) a book, it is because I genuinely do. Always feel free to ask for recommendations or suggestions and if you are looking for inspiration elsewhere don’t just rely on algorithms or advertisements that pop up on your eavesdropping phone. Look at reviews, speak to friends and family and then dive into a book. It increases the probability that you’ll enjoy the book, and then want to read more, which is beneficial for your mental health.

A final little tip is if you are looking for books for the little people in your life, then look for reviews by other kids. Jacob doesn’t care that Gordon age 58 thought the storyline of a book was too similar to something he’d read before and the 11 year old was unrealistic in his eyes, and the character arcs were unconventional. Jacob’s view is so much more simple. Is the book fun, is the book interesting and does he want to read the next in the series. Come to think of it, it would be lovely if some adults didn’t overthink the reviews and just simply asked themselves if they enjoyed it.

For clarity Gordon is fictional, although his review is not.

Happy reading and I hope you manage to find a good book to read.

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My son found the Skywake series in your shop and can't wait til the final is published. He was so surprised I told him it's not our til August!!

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Adrian Raffill
Adrian Raffill
07 feb 2023

I love recommending books and having them recommended to me. It's what Caversham Writers Bookshare Night is all about!

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