Fancy a visit to a bookshop that has a pub in its backroom? Rob Walters, Oxford based
author and guide, has opened his own boozy bookshop on the Web. In the shop you can
browse Rob’s writing (short pieces are available for free), buy books, or visit the
Rob has started his bookshop partly for fun, but also as a means of publishing works
that are difficult to get into print in today’s cluttered market.
“I have had a number of books published so far: two of them based on Oxford,” Rob
explains. “But I have other writing that I would really like to put before the public.
For example I have now written four novels. I think that they are good enough to
publish; one of them recently won a prize for its first chapter. But publishers’
in-trays are overflowing with unread manuscripts – it seems that everyone wants to
write nowadays. I have turned my novels into eBooks so that anyone can download and
read them on their PC or on a reader like Amazon’s Kindle. This is the modern way
of publication. The books are cheap and, if they prove popular, I will also put them
into production as paper books. I’ve also written a number of travel related books
and these are now available as eBook downloads from my bookshop.”
Of course, the idea of a web-based bookshop is not new, but this one, devoted entirely
to Rob’s writing is unique and is certainly the only with an attached pub. It also
has a blog in which Rob writes about writing.
“I think of the blog as the sort of conversation I might have with customers if the
bookshop and the pub were real,” he said. “I write about the bookshop itself and
the books I’m currently reading myself.”
The usual problem with this sort of venture is attracting people to visit the bookshop.
Rob has two solutions to this. He is a city guide and through this meets a lot of
people from all over the world. Many of them are interested in his writing, so now
he gives them a card that steers them to his bookshop. The other solution is to make
the bookshop fun – hence the backroom in which there is constantly updated literary
news, a word of the day from the Oxford English Dictionary and Rob’s current favourite
crossword clue. The backroom is also the door to the pub. But why include a pub at
“I love pubs,” Rob explains. “Especially those with real ale. Pubs are one of the
few places that you can meet and converse with complete strangers. I get many ideas
from these encounters. Pubs are the source of many good jokes so I’ve included a
joke-of-the-day in The Literary Arms. You can also visit the toilet and in the Sports
bar there is a dart board, a pool table and other entertainments. Over time I have
introduced a number of other bars,mostly for fun - though the Real Ale Bar is serious
and a means to have fun. The only thing that you can’t do in this pub is a drink,
but if you could it would have to be a pint of real ale!”
I also love trees and have a particular penchant for their boles or trunks, which
is why I introduced Tree Bole Treats to the bookshop - perhaps with the idea of
a Book of Boles sometime in the future, maybe.