It was really helpful for our folk in Carlisle to meet and spend a little time with booksellers, particularly in customer services, where both booksellers and our team, who talk regularly on the phone, could now meet in person. We were able to take questions about how things now work here, listen to booksellers talking about their experiences with us, responding to their queries and understanding more their needs. We were able to show the changes that have been made over the last couple of years.
We took everyone through the warehouses to show the pick, pack & ship process, and managed not to lose anyone!
After a reception hosted by Authentic Media, we then had a really good evening with bestselling author G.P. Taylor, who talked about the power of books, his own writing and life as a vicar, author, policeman & exorcist. He really encouraged us about the importance of books and of booksellers and left us inspired to connect not just with our Christian communities but the wider world; his books, including the hugely popular Shadowmancer. If you ever get to meet him, ask him to tell you the story of the fox, the milkman and his underwear!
The following morning was the official part of the event with the Annual General meeting. Mark Clifford of Sarum Books in Salisbury re-elected to be Chairman of the Group.
There was a discussion on the trade, with a good number of stores being encouraged by sales, some finding life hard, but all really committed to their ministries. It reminded me yet again of the passion and sacrifice that people make to be involved in Christian Bookselling.
We then had a session where I presented the latest on our IT situation, stock & service levels. Booksellers fed back their experiences and issues. We had good dialogue about what retailers wanted us to concentrate on, and respond to and we were able to explain about some of the problems we are working through and how they are being solved. The booksellers were very direct with us, very clear on their issues, and constructive in their thoughts. I really appreciated their input. We’ll blog further about how we’re addressing these issues.
Finally we said good bye to John Parke, who has served the booktrade for over 30 years in the Booksellers Association. Mark Clifford said “John has been a great friend to the Christian booktrade, and to many of us as individuals”, he is a unique man and will be truly missed. Les Bingham who has known John for many years presented him with 2 gifts from the antiquarian bookshop in Wesley Owen York to commemorate his work and passions.
We were grateful to Meryl Halls & Sharon Down from BA for joining us, but in particular to the booksellers who took 2 days out of their busy lives to be part of the wider community of Christian Bookselling. It was for us really valuable time and we really appreciated being allowed to host the event.