The milestone for us this month has been the launch of our own local web site. It’s a useful tool for us in store that allows us to take control of our local marketing.

The site, a microsite on, includes reviews, in-store events and pictures of the team and past events. It will also feature books by local authors. Having a local web site allows us to support that sort of title; there’s no way we could do that in a national campaign.

Another strong area will be the recommendations page, where staff can post their own choices. There’s nothing people like better than a personal recommendation. It’s an extra job at a busy time of year, but it’s such a welcome addition.

The build-up to Christmas is now in full swing. We’ve just launched our festive promotions. This year, humour books will be a big category. One of the more interesting titles on offer is I Lick My Cheese by Oonagh O’Hagan. It’s about the joys of flat-sharing and brings together a collection of 120 hilarious notes that flatmates have written to each other. It will be appearing on our local web site soon. Cookery books will be another category to step up a gear, with new titles including TV tie-ins from Nigella, Jamie and Gordon.

Of course, the million-dollar question is: are they spending yet? It was late last year; who knows when it will start this year? With the recent postal strikes, you could question whether people will be as confident buying online this year and will return to stores instead. If they do, we’ll definitely be ready to help them.