Tuesday 16 August 2016

Bookshop Crawl Expectations: A Guide for the Overwhelmed

Bookshop Crawl organisation seems to be my new thing. Because meeting up with a group of strangers organised by an overenthusiastic lady 'from the internet' can be nervewracking I thought it might be helpful if I wrote a post about how it all works and what (if any) expectations there are.
The aim of these events is purely to have fun, promote friendship within the book community (by which I mean the community of people who love books, rather than any specific group or organisation - you don't have to do anything to do with books in order to join us, just read them!) and discover and support excellent, often (but not always) independent, bookshops.  

The only requirement for coming on any of the bookshop crawls is that you want to spend a day shopping for books. You can be an internet person or have heard about the crawl from a friend of a friend. I can know you or we can have never spoken before, you're equally welcome either way. The relationship between the attendees for these events (London earlier this year  (and hopefully again next year) - and Bath this Saturday) are based around nothing stronger than being book lovers who are in or can get to a certain location on a specific day.

There will be an itinerary on the day and generally most of the group follows it, but if you want to spend more or less time at one or all of the stops or feel the need to go off by yourself for a nap/alone time/to buy sweets during the crawl you're absolutely welcome to do that. I will circulate my mobile number beforehand so you can easily call or text if you want to know where the group is. You are under no obligation to come (or stay) for the whole day, but if you're leaving please let me know in person or via text so I'm not looking for you!

If you're worried that everyone else will know each other, see above about the totally random way in which I gather people for the events. It's very unlikely that you'll be the only new person there, but even if you feel that you are, there will be several other people, myself included, who will take you under there wings and ask you boring questions about your journey and introduce you to other people until you feel more comfortable. In London most people spent most of the day reminding each other of their names and everyone still seemed to have a great time so please don't worry!

A lot of people who have come or are coming on crawls are bad at meeting new people or suffer with some form of anxiety (myself included). If this is you then please do whatever you need to do to make the situation easier. We have a twitter chat before each crawl where people can get to know more about each other and to make it easier to put names to faces and give starting points for conversation on the day. If you want to bring a partner, sibling or friend(s) with you for support please feel free - the more the merrier! I brought three siblings, three friends and a brother-in-law on the first crawl I organised!

If you arrive at a bookshop or meeting place and have one of those moments a lot of us have probably had, where you're just unable to bring yourself to walk in by yourself or come over and say hi, please text or DM me and I will happily come and find you on my own and have a chat so you don't have to walk in alone. One of the major ways I keep my own anxiety in check is by making sure everyone else has what they need, so if you need help let me know!

There are no requirements at all for the number of books you buy on the day. On the London Bookshop Crawl I bought the most (14) but my friend only bought one. Nobody is judging your budget. If you can afford to go crazy and buy books in every shop by all means do, but if you can't then feel free to use the day as a way to make new book loving friends, get recommendations, add to your wishlist and discover excellent bookshops to revisit when in more affluent times! It's all about the experience, not how much you buy!

Basically I want to make fun events that can be enjoyed by as many people as possible, and I want to make lots of new book lover friends! The London event was so much fun - everyone was lovely, there was hardly any awkwardness and we all got on really well - and I'm confident that Bath and all forthcoming events will be too, so if you're thinking about coming please bite the bullet and just do it!

If you have any questions I've not covered here please feel free to ask them in the comments or via twitter (@NinjaBookSwap). If you'd like to join us for the Bath Bookshop Crawl on Saturday August 20th please tweet or email me for the itinerary details.

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