Tag Archives: bookstore cats

She was Young, Lithe, Long-tailed…

cat romanceJack’s weekly guest blog

The other morning I idly watched our two staff kittens, Owen Meany (male) and Nike (female) rolling around in a clinch (heated embrace) in front of the paperback romances. And I was struck by a thought.

We have far too many romances and are having trouble shifting them, despite every conceivable (hah!) kind of discount or clever bundling. But my wife the author is always laughing about something known as “kitten cover theory.” Basically, the fastest way to sell a book is to put a kitten on its cover.

And we know for a fact that ‘cozy’ mysteries that involve cats or kittens fly off the shelf. . .

. . . so I wonder if paperback romances involving love-struck kittens mightn’t be a sure-fire seller? Nike tends to come off worst from her encounters with Owen – frequently with a scratch or a bruise. Hickies, in essence.

Titles began to appear in my imagination. ” Catermauling Lover,” “Kitten Canoodle,”  “My Highland Wildcat” –  –  -

Then cover art with muscular toms and shapely tabbies rolling around in each other’s paws.

The blurbs on the back of romances have always amused us and so I began to write them in my mind -

“She was young, lithe, and long-tailed. He was lean, mean, a real street tough whose whiskers quivered with desire….”

Well, that will be quite enough of that.

What makes this all a bit academic, though, is that Owen Meany isn’t quite the man he used to be and Nike is, even as I write, having a small ‘procedure’ carried out by Dr. Beth. So all future clinches will be purely platonic for both of them. Perhaps that adds to the romance?


Filed under animal rescue, bad writing, Big Stone Gap, humor, reading, small town USA, Uncategorized

Photoblog: A Day in the Life of a Bookstore Staff Animal


It’s not that easy, being a bookstore staff animal.

Assessing trade-ins...

Assessing trade-ins…

..getting purrrsonally involved in inventory management....

..getting purrrsonally involved in inventory management….

Patrolling the shelves requires constant vigilance.

Patrolling the shelves requires constant vigilance.

Writing ads....

Writing ads….

...training interns....

…training interns….

Answering phone inquiries is a duty only senior staff can handle.

Answering phone inquiries is a duty only senior staff can handle.

Dealing with customers calls on deep diplomacy skills.

Dealing with customers calls on deep diplomacy skills.

That's why it's important to take plenty of breaks.

That’s why it’s important to take plenty of breaks.

PLENTY of breaks...

PLENTY of breaks…

Of course, there are perks to working in the Little Bookstore....

Of course, there are perks to working in the Little Bookstore….

Staff enjoy a certain degree of celebrity.

Staff enjoy a certain degree of celebrity.

We offer a full benefits package under Amerifur, including cone coverage and maternity care.

We offer a full benefits package under Amerifur, including cone coverage.

Reguations governing inter-staff relationships tend to be lax.

Regulations governing inter-staff relationships tend to be lax.

The staff dining room is free, and includes a full milk bar.

And finally, the staff dining room is free, and includes a full milk bar.


Filed under animal rescue, Big Stone Gap, bookstore management, humor, Uncategorized, VA


So my Twitter friend Erica Susan Jones – she loves books and cats, so it was pretty much friendship at first tweet – has started a blog. About bookshops. ‘Nuff said.

Here it is, copied from her site, which is http://thebookshoparoundthecorner.blogspot.co.uk/

Books are my addiction.

If I see a bookshop I have to go inside, and walking inside means I inevitably leave with at least one book, generally two or three. From fiction to cookery, classics to sci fi, crime to chick lit, I love them all.

But it’s not just about the subject, a book is a true sensory experience. Reading the story, savouring the words, hearing the pages turn, the scent of the paper and ink and feeling its weight in my hands. Each one is unique, with its creases and imperfections, markings in the margin or name inside the cover – recording the journey the book has taken with each individual reader, a memory that no e-reader can mimic.

And the bookshop it comes from is just as important a part of the reading process. Row upon row of books lining the shelves, with central tables drawing our attention to key themes or authors as we browse, looking for inspiration, or perhaps moving with purpose on the quest for something specific.

Then there are the booksellers. Readers themselves, they can be a great source to tap when looking for your next big read – or struggling to find a gift for your Dad/friend/boss. These people help bring the personal touch that very few websites are able to claim.

But all is not well, the bookshop is in decline.

I’m not about to go into facts and figures about how many have closed and when, as I’d probably find it too depressing and that’s not what this blog is about. Instead I’m going to – mostly – ignore the e-reader and internet shopping and focus on the positives.

Just a brief search of the internet reveals a wealth of bookshops to be enjoyed by the discerning reader, all with their own character and charm, all crying out to me to visit. And so we come to the purpose of my writing.

This blog is to be a celebration of the bookshop.

Every entry will be about a bookshop of some kind or another. Generally I plan to visit the bookshops (independent or part of a chain, so long as they’re real I’ll visit) to tell you what’s special about them, or why I want to visit them, but given that time, money and geography will limit me somewhat I’m sure the odd (real) fictional bookshop will sneak in to ensure regular writing.

I hope you enjoy exploring the bookshops with me and maybe feel inspired to visit a few more yourself. Also, if anyone has a bookshop they want to recommend (preferably in the UK unless you want to pay for my travel) I’d love to hear about it with a view to hopefully visiting sometime.

Thanks for reading,

You can leave a comment for Erica here, or go directly to her blog!

Leave a comment

Filed under book repair, book reviews, bookstore management, folklore and ethnography, publishing, Scotland, shopsitting, small town USA, Uncategorized, writing

Who? Me??

Jack’s Wednesday guest post -

As Wendy has posted in the past, we’ve been having lots of folk dropping into the shop who’ve read ‘The Little Bookstore’ – some from quite a distance (hhmmm – that sounds odd). They range from fairly large book-clubs to family groups and individuals and from Michigan to Florida. We’ve even got someone coming from Oregon in a month or two!

IMG_3640beulahAlmost without exception they take photographs, and these usually include pictures of our cats. The cats react to this attention in a variety of ways. Val-Kittie ignores everyone and continues working on her 5 year plan, while Beulah poses on the front porch – her domain – with great pride.

But the newest bookstore staff cat, Owen Meany, is just coming to grips with stardom. We didn’t have him while Wendy was writing; he came just at the end, and is named for the book Wendy was not supposed to hate. Owen is still too kittenish to carry off ‘aloof,’ and doesn’t have a personal domain to be proud of, or a story from the book for people to react to, so he does – – – kittenish things.owen meany 026

His favorite thing right now is to try to swing Tarzan-like from the tassel on the end of the fan pull-cord, although when he is discovered doing this he will quickly pretend to be working hard at something very important. Poor Owen; perhaps when Wendy writes her next book, he’ll be in it. That will make it easier for him to find his place in the bookstore world.

Owen sizing up the distance.

Owen sizing up the distance.

I'm working - really I am!

I’m working – really I am!


Filed under animal rescue, Big Stone Gap, book reviews, humor, small town USA, Uncategorized

Albert Speaks his Mind

reading kittenHi. I’m Albert. My sister Princess Stephanie is around here someplace. We live in a bookstore. Well, we do right now. Someday we’re gonna live in our own house, but I hope it has lots of shelves in it ’cause we’ve gotten really good at bouncing off them an’ using them for hide and seek.

Steph and I came here with our mom an’ brother Alfred. Alfred was really shy which for some reason got humans all excited. “Oh, look at the little one peeking around the corner!” they’d say, all gooey an’ everything. Next thing you know Alfred went out the door, riding high on some lady’s shoulder, giving Steph an’ me this “So long, losers!” look. Kinda makes me mad, ’cause I taught him that corner trick.

stephanie I’m the oldest. It’s my job to make sure Stephie gets a good home, too. That’s her on the left; you can see she’s fluffier than me. She whacks me with her paw whenever I say this, but she’s gonna run to fat when she’s older. You know those fluffy cats who lie on the sofa back all day watching television, between bowls of cream and tummy rubs? Yeah, that’s my little sister.

Me, I’m more of an adventurous guy. I’m studying mousing now; you should see my jumps! Stephie an’ me, we’d kinda like to go together at this point. We’re twelve weeks old, been friends all our lives an’ all that, but I know it doesn’t always work out that way. She’d be okay anywhere, too. We don’t call her Princess Stephanie for nothing.

albertalfredMom went back to the place she used to live. She was barely out of diapers herself when she got pregnant with us. I feel kinda bad for her, but at least she did have a home to go back to, once we were in foster care. I don’t mind being a foster kitten. The meals are regular an’ people cuddle us an’ if mom’s not here, well, we’re not out on the street like some cats.

Steph an’ me, we’re happy cats, like to run an’ play, like our tummies tickled. We’ve got big purrs an’ big hearts an’ we know how to use the potty all by ourselves. We keep our food area clean an’ if you just roll a jingle ball my way every once in awhile, I’ll count myself a lucky kitten. So how ’bout it; wanna come visit and let’s see how we get along?

albert and alfred


Filed under animal rescue, Big Stone Gap, humor, small town USA, Uncategorized

Box Store?

Jack’s regular Wednesday guest post examines his guilty conscience -

One of the areas of contention between Wendy and me regarding the bookstore is the thorny issue of ‘tidiness’ and cleanliness. To explain further – I favor the Aladdin’s Cave model of used bookstore, while Wendy would rather everyone be able to find any book easily through rigorous alphabetizing and categorizing. In addition, I have no sense of smell, so tracking down elusive cat pee is next to impossible for me.

I’m not oblivious to the delights of a clean and tidy store and I do get a satisfying feeling when it gives out that general ambience. I’d even admit to really appreciating visits to other bookstores that achieve that kind of slick well organized look. So, what to do?

The cleanliness and cat-pee problem is ably dealt with by our ‘wonder-woman’ Heather every Monday and even I appreciate the difference after she is finished.

However our other big problem is not having anywhere to easily store large donations of books when they appear by the box-load. A couple of bags is one thing, but eight or ten large boxes is something else and we can’t let them clutter up floor space. Sorting out the acceptable from the non-acceptable usually results in at least a couple of boxes of ‘throwaways’ and they need to go somewhere – at least temporarily. Up to now that has been the garage, but that has now been taken over by (horrors) a car!

MidGe in the garage.

MidGe in the garage.







To the point -

Two of our good friends, (mother and son), who are regular attenders at our various evening events, brought us ten large boxes of books just the other night. Another gripe – books are heavy, so shifting large boxes is back-breaking work. Luckily their taste in reading is eclectic so at least the collection can be spread pretty evenly throughout the store. While the needlework gang were busy setting the world to rights last night I made a start and, sure enough, out of the ten boxes I rapidly identified two boxes worth of ‘throwaways’ (actually three liftable boxes).

We absolutely hate throwing away books and will even turn them into planters or hand-bags and purses to avoid that terrible fate, but sometimes it just has to be done (I think the reason the garage filled up with books is for just that reason).

Today is garbage day and I have a heavy heart – not only because the erstwhile contents of the garage wait at the curbside, but there are three boxes sitting forlornly waiting the same fate.

Mea Culpa!


Filed under Uncategorized

The Working Cats of Istanbul

IMG_3980My friend Nichole once sent me  a book called Cats of Greece. This has inspired today’s blog, on a theme dear to my heart–and also to my friend Heather’s. (Heather is the GG who wrote the guest blog “Dirty Little Secrets of the Little Bookstore” a few days ago, featuring cats.)

There are many cats in Istanbul, and because of Turkey’s excellent training programs, they all have gainful employment.  Zeynep weaves carpets just down from the High Street by Topkapi Palace. Below, Turker and his sister Ceren run a sidewalk cafe near the Galata Tower.IMG_3982

At the palace itself, there are several cats working shifts at the guardhouse set up for their convenience in bad weather. I didn’t get all their names, but one night I took some leftover food up, and when the bag rustled as I dumped it, cats came from everywhere.

IMG_3953  Amane sings with a jazz band in the newer part of Istanbul, up near the High Street from Galata, but she is also putting herself through school by selling instruments in a music shop. She teaches beginning drums for children.IMG_3920

Ahmet was on guard duty at the Blue Mosque when we walked up one night, but the mosque was closed except for those who wanted to pray, and Ahmet was clearly embarrassed that we were still there as tourists. We thanked him and left quickly.IMG_3975

Ayse paints ceramics outside the Grand Bazaar; she was on break when we met her. IMG_3875

Of course we were delighted to meet Suliman and his wife Fatma, who keep a bookstore in the market district. They introduced us to their colleague next door, Mahmood, who specialized in antique calligraphy.



IMG_3790This wee cat, whose name we didn’t catch, was begging at a fishing village on the Bosphorous tourism boat stop. She leaped into this couple’s lap and made nice, then when fish from his sandwich was not forthcoming, clawed him until he dropped it. Clever little bugger.

IMG_3912Sultan is teaching his human the carpet trade in the Sultan’s stables bazaar, just off the Blue Mosque. Sultan was very thirsty when we came by, having just finished his lunch of salami, and his human staff were appreciative when I poured water from my bottle into his saucer.

IMG_3703Theodora poses for pictures with little children in Gulhane Park, for the very reasonable fee of one Turkish Lira per photo.

 And finally, Topkapi (that’s her stage name; her real name is Tiffany) moved here from France and models jewelry for the Ti Amo jewelry store, across the street from the Sirkaci Konak Hotel in the Old City. Topkapi only works nights.IMG_3871


Filed under animal rescue, Uncategorized