This morning I found a home for 'Steerforth Books': a small unit within a converted agricultural outbuilding, owned by a gentleman farmer called Peter*.
I had wanted somewhere in Lewes, but this option makes much more financial sense for the time being. The rent is very reasonable and if my business turns out to be an unmitigated disaster, I only have to give a month's notice.
I suppose that I should have visited lots of properties and carefully weighed up the options, but what's the point? I liked the office and I liked Peter. Also, with only three weeks left before I leave the comfortable world of paid employment, I need to get cracking.
I'll hopefully take possession of the unit next week and my first priority will be to install shelving for up to 10,000 books. I had thought of doing the shelves myself, but I've no desire to suffer the same fate as the French composer Alkan, who was killed by a falling bookcase. I think I'll ask an expert.
After the shelving, I need to sort out internet access, buy some desks and chairs and set up seller accounts on marketplaces like Amazon. Once that's done, I can start ordering the stock. None of this will feel real until I actually have some books.
At some point during the next few months, I'll also launch a website. I've been think of a logo and have scoured the internet for images of the original Steerforth from David Copperfield, but this was all I can find:
Steerforth all at sea? I'm not sure if it sends out the right signals.
Does anyone have any bright ideas for a logo or accompanying font? Most of my stock will be general titles from the 20th and late 19th centuries, with a few rare and antiquarian books thrown in. I certainly won't be 'high end', but I don't want to look like the bargain basement either.
What sort of things would you find reassuring or attractive as a buyer if you stumbled across Steerforth Books on the internet?
I'm resigned to opening a Twitter account, wading through the tedium of Google analytics and possibly beginning a new Facebook page (although I think that Facebook has 'jumped the shark').
Failing that, I could go viral with a book-related video on YouTube. 'Happy slapping' is so last decade, so perhaps a flashmob in the reading room of the British Library, or my five-year-old son and his friends dressing up in their Fireman Sam outfits and recreating 'Fahrenheit 451' would grab some attention? I'm not convinced.
Maybe I should just stick to selling good books at a slightly cheaper price than everyone else, wrap them in decent packaging and make sure that they're posted promptly?
Anyway, any suggestions would be much appreciated.
* NB - By 'gentleman farmer', I mean a farmer who is a gentleman, not a man of leisure who dabbles in farming.