Monthly Archives: November 2018

What Price Culture?

A few days ago, a customer approached our counter. She had in her hand the just published, new edition of that wonderful reference work ‘Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable.’  Endlessly fascinating, it is an idiosyncratic treasure trove of word history, culture, folk lore and legend – and one of my favourite books. At £45.00 the price was rather more than our customer was expecting. I encouraged her saying that, running to 1600 pages, it’s a monster of a book and one that will be used time and time again. For the right person it will become a loved friend in the bookshelf for a lifetime. Looked at in those terms, £45.00 seems less daunting – more an investment for a lifetime resource.

However, it seems a less worthwhile investment when the Book People and Amazon are selling it for £12.99.

I am well aware that since the demise of the Net Book Agreement every retailer can set their own prices for all books. I also recognise that, like supermarkets, some retailers of books might sometimes choose to sell at an unrealistic price as a ‘loss leader’. However, we also all know that there is some relationship between the discount a publisher gives and the price that a company can realistically sell at.

I think it is clear that selling new book at over 70% discount (plus free postage on a heavy book) is way beyond normal discounting of new titles and one can only presume that the publisher, Hachette’s, John Murray, has given a discount which allows this. If so, then surely it is short sighted. It undermines sales through High Street shops which are under enough pressure anyway. Shops who support and sell across the range of John Murray’s books.

If you consider the publisher’s earned income from a title across different market sectors, then the only conclusion that can be drawn is that in reality High Street bookshops are subsidising the discounts given to online and ‘direct to consumer’ operations like the Book People.

We and our customers, by paying the full price, are treated like mugs.

‘Brewers Dictionary of Phrase and Fable’ might be a relatively recent addition to the list but I believe at least six generations of John Murrays will be turning in their graves!

Published in ‘The Bookseller’ magazine November 2018.

The Unfamiliars Scratch Lab: Tales for the Fireside

Friday 30th November 7.30pm – 10.00pm

An evening showcasing some of the finest creative types Colchester has on offer. Expect comedy, music, magic, art, performance, poetry, spoken word and the unfamiliar. Taking place in different and exciting locations each monthly show is built around a theme. This month:

Themed “Tales For The Fireside”, the Scratch Lab contains an hour of curated content, a mini exhibition and the launch of the new issue of the Unfamiliars zine. Expect enthralling tales, gothic experiences and just darn good stories.


Lisa Temple-Cox

Lee Ashcroft

and more!

The evening will be hosted by Lewis Walker and Tourism Superstar 2017 Nominee Gemma Abbott.

Alongside all of the above there’ll be a limited edition zine boasting contributions from a host of incredible talent.

The event takes place downstairs at Red Lion Books. Seats are limited! Guarantee yours by booking in advance or chance it and pay what you want on the door.*

Tickets available from Eventbrite here

‘Floral Abstraction’ – a textile art exhibition

showing in our downstairs gallery area until Dec 31st 2018



Stitchers inc. is very excited to be making a return visit to Red lion Books and to bring our current exhibition Floral Abstraction to a wider audience.  Members of the group are based in North Essex and South Suffolk and come together to meet and work each month at Elm Farm Studio in Great Tey, under the inspirational guidance of mentor Alexandra Waylett.  We enjoy exploring a variety of media and incorporate paint, print, paper and water soluble materials in our textile work as well as more traditional forms of embroidery.  This exhibition brings a fresh and contemporary twist to an age old subject with ‘abstract’ being a key feature of our interpretation of flowers and plant life.  Each member has brought their own style to both group and solo pieces, and wall pieces are complemented by a selection of 3D explorations.

Their work will be exhibited at Red Lion Books until the end of December 2018.