The absence of news posts in the last few months fortunately reflects constant activity at John Sandoe’s rather than idleness, despite what might be thought! We’ve been buzzing about in Blacklands Terrace rather than inconstantly lounging on the shores of the Black Sea, or languishing artistically in Bergamo, drinking coffee in Bratislava or even viewing pavilions in Brighton…
So where to begin? With, perhaps, two splendid novels that are coming out soon for which we will be hosting launch parties: Vesna Goldsworthy’s ‘Monsieur Ka’ (which, as some may remember, began as our Cuckoo Press pamphlet a couple of years ago) and Philip Hensher’s ‘The Friendly Ones’. Both are extremely good in their different ways and we look forward to selling these in spades. And we have also just received copies of an outstanding catalogue raisonné of Peter Lanyon’s paintings, by Toby Treves. It is published by Modern Art Press who did the wonderful William Nicholson book a few years ago.
How we filled our time these last months? In early October we were invited to sell books at the first Cliveden Literary Festival. This was a terrific weekend with talks by Robert Harris, Antonia Fraser, Ian McEwan, Sebastian Faulks, Tina Brown, Howard Jacobson, Ruth Rogers and numerous other luminaries. We took huge quantities of books,including some rare (and some not-so-rare) second hand editions to spice up our display, and set up shop in what once was Lord Astor’s garage. Four of us were kept extremely busy there while the rest of the team looked after the shop, which was also in full swing as our Christmas catalogue had just arrived on customers’ doormats, actual or virtual.
The Christmas catalogue also contained details of our pre-paid subscriptions packages, which are doing well.
We have begun working with a few kindred organizations, including two charities, providing specialist book lists. This is an exciting departure for us, which we hope to see bear fruit in new book sales. We have a few more projects in development of this kind and will keep our kind readers posted in due course.
The last 12 months or so have also seen the promising rise of John Sandoe’s on Instagram. Our own posts (done by Boojum) have a coherence both in tone and in look that admirably reflects the character of the shop and our tastes; above all they are fun to do. And other, eager Instagrammers have enjoyed posting about the shop too, so that most days we see someone turning into Blacklands Terrace with their phone held before them like a water-diviner’s rod. One day we even had a visit from a woman who said she worked for Instagram and wanted to see what all the fuss was about! Bribery, of course, plays a central role in the proceedings: Boojum is taken out for dinner each time Sandoe’s acquires another thousand followers. She is still owed one at the moment, and may have to have two dinners in one night at the rate she is going… poor thing.