September 13, 2018
Someone has won a Welsh bookshop in a raffle and we’re not jealous at all
by Tom Clayton
This week, Charlotte Eyre in the Bookseller reported that a man had won an entire bookshop in a promotional raffle organised over three months by retiring bookseller Paul Morris, of Bookmarks in Cardigan, west Wales. Customers who spent over £20 were entered into a prize draw to win the shop and its stock – with a combined estimated value of £30,000. The prize was won by Ceisjan Van Heerden of the Netherlands, who, perhaps understandably, said he was ’shocked’ by the win.
It’s a story which got me thinking about my own raffle career. So first, here’s a very specific thing for you to try and visualise: you know those free calendars that Chinese takeouts include with your order, right around Chinese New Year? Which always, for some reason, feature a (possibly unofficial) Disney character, and seem dangerously ready to scroll themselves shut again at any point, trapping your hand, and any stray spring rolls in the vicinity, forever? Yeah, those. You’ve got it. So when I was a kid I won one of those in a raffle. It remains the only thing I have ever won in my (admittedly sporadic) raffle career. I know you have questions, chief among them: who, after receiving a novelty calendar as part of their takeaway meal, then DONATES it to a raffle?! With a straight face?! and: Why have you digressed into this rambling raffle-based anecdote, Tom? Well, my point is, raffle prizes have obviously come on a bit in the last few years. (Although maybe my rotten luck is genetic: my dad once won a single, warm, can of Guinness).
As you can see, the psychological wounds are still pretty raw, so maybe we’d better return to Cardigan. Quite apart from being the literal dream of many book-lovers (apart from maybe this one, which the Guardian reported on earlier in the summer), there are a couple of other nice details about this story: the shop, which Van Heerden will officially take over on the 5th of November, was passed to him in a ceremony during which Abba’s ‘The Winner Takes It All’ was played. Oh, and did I mention? Van Heerden plans to run to the shop with an Icelandic friend whom, although they have known each other online for nine years, he has never met in person.
With so many quirky elements in the mix I am EXTREMELY READY for the ensuing film adaptation of this story. So here are some potential titles, depending on how the venture goes:
- Don’t Book Now
- Tomeward Bound
- Small-Time Books
- Me, Myshelf & Irene
- Appendix Now
- Paging Bull
- Beavis and Bookhead
- The Bababook
… that should about cover it. Just pop the royalty cheque in the post, lads. And best of luck to you.
Tom Clayton is the publishing executive at Melville House UK.