Thursday, 10 December 2015

Music and books

Lots on this weekend. Friday 11th we have the EP launch from Stylusboy (tickets here) and Saturday 12th we host Kerry Hadley-Pryce for a book signing of her novel The Black Country at 3pm.

We've got lots of books (like, thousands) plus a cafe bit too.


Thursday, 26 November 2015

Christmas time is a magical time

I'm sat here with Christmas music on the stereo and our window display about to be tackled. It's coming! Anyway.
The shop was shut last week (mostly) as I was struck down with gastroenteritis. I'm not one to mooch off and whine so I was well and truly ill. Three days shivering and not sleeping left me rotten. I returned Saturday as we had the amazing Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker here for a sold out gig, but the day trade was also hectic, the busiest for some time. From 3 days of doing nothing to 15 hours running around hit me hard, so much so that I decided to close Sunday too. A few more days rest and I'm up to 80%, maybe 83%. We're open again anyway.

Yesterday we hosted the final Palestinian Film Night at the shop. The Coventry Friends of Palestine showed 'Miral'. It was a very informative piece of work and I urge you to seek it out. It's got Willem Defoe in it at one point.

We're also hosting our regular Retro Game Night to night with fellow Fargo Village tenant Entertainment Bro. These nights are always well attended and great fun. Tonight I think Dan is dusting off an Atari so that should be fun!

Into the new year, I'm hoping to make every Thursday and Friday an 'event night'. See the event pages and social media for more up to date stuff.

On another note our Big Comfy Sessions have hit a high point with BBC Radio 2 folk award winners Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker, plus the excellent Ange Hardy recently sitting on the sofa. I love doing these. I basically give them tea and ask them questions whilst Ron from Redwood Photography does all the hard work. Rich of @Mr_Spoon also does stuff but no one really knows what.

On the Folk Club side you can now buy tickets for the next 5 months! Some have already been snapped up through til March so have a look who's here and pick them up. A great Christmas Present idea.

Finally, I've been asked a lot on twitter if our bookshop mugs are for order. Well now they are! We can do international shipping too. Just see the new shop HERE. There's also a new tab at the top of the website.

Be back soon as promised in my last post. In the meantime, catch me at @bigcomfybooks, on facebook and please sign up to the mail list.


Friday, 13 November 2015

Let's get personal

Hello my name is Michael and I run a bookshop.

I've spent a while today and yesterday looking at what made me love the idea of a bookshop, and what made me enjoy blogging about it. What I've found is I've become a lot more businessy with it all. I think one reason, probably the main reason, that the shop started so well is that it was all me out there, chatting, blogging, social media-ing, rather than a faceless businessman. Over time this has been worn away a little. The day to day running, organising and general promotion takes up most of my time and I think I've left a lot more of 'me' out of it. I'm hopefully going to be bringing this back. I haven't exactly gone all professional with a sharp suit, but a lot of tweets, blog posts and general stuff is more, well, businessy.

I thought it'd be nice if I wrote a little recap of year 1 as this is overdue, and also what's to come from the shop and from me in the near future. This might hopefully give you an idea of who I am and what's been going on.

First off the start was obviously overhwelming. 10k people in a weekend was amazing. This slowed down and just after last Christmas it actually almost stalled. As well as the bookshop being a new business, the whole of Fargo is new too so there were and still are many things to overcome, figure out and generally get better at. But over time things have started to pick up. It was Mothers day this year that things changed for me. Previously I was taking part in a lot of events at Fargo. Trying to fit the displays with the weekly or monthly theme, saying yes to a lot of things just so the word of the bookshop got around. It all helped sure, but to a cost as I was so weary and worn out. I'd worked from Aug 4th through til Christmas eve with just Mondays off (apart from 10 days when my son was born!) and then picked up again on Jan 4th and worked through til March the same. I was burnt out. I always wanted music here but from the start I had way too much. I had around 2 gigs a week, plus poetry, gaming and whatever people asked. I was a yes man. Spending up to 14 hours in a bookshop then going home to a crying baby wasn't fun. One week I remember working around 80 hours.

Anyway, come Mothers day I was supplying the wine for the mothers day tea in the hall. I said yes as I wanted to help out. I was thinking of Fargo as a whole rather than the bookshop first. After some confusion the wine on offer wasn't that which was advertised and a few people got upset about it. It was this that broke the camels back. I run a bookshop, not a catering service. I should have declined the idea of offering wine. It seems so small now to write it but it caused me so much stress I had to have around 3 or 4 days off and reassess what I was doing.

Number 1 was I had to concentrate on the bookshop and what I wanted, not what other people expected it to be. Several events were culled or rearranged to better suit a schedule. Things that I would have said yes to received a no. It was a great weight off my shoulders. One such thing that was adjusted was the sheer amount of events and especially gigs. After a few events where the audience could be counted on one hand I decided to create a more focused, a better organised gigging experience for both the audience and the acts. The Big Comfy Folk Club came out of this. Instead of loads of gigs with 2 acts on, I now just had 2 a month with three acts on each. From the start attendances were up. Since it's grown we've had around 5 sell outs, with another 3 or 4 coming a few tickets short. It's become so popular that Kathryn Williams wanted to play, Mark Morriss came too plus next year we've bagged Boo Hewerdine plus another biggie tba. I receive around 15 emails a week wanting to play.

I've been a lot more comfortable since I did this. It's manageable to promote a gig at a time, rather than 2 or 3. In May time I also was really busy so hired two members of staff. Ali and Annette joined the ranks and both have been great, bringing different things to the shop. It also meant that from June I could have Tuesday off! A weekend!
Through the summer it was always an unknown how we'd do as it's year one and unsure what to expect. If I'm honest (which is the whole point of this blog I guess) it was a great disappointment. The footfall just wasn't there. People would rather go and sit in a park, or go on holiday. I had the folk club that brought in a healthy amount and the poetry and gaming nights kicked up a gear, but the day to day trade was slight. Hope was round the corner though as our 1st birthday loomed. On a whole it was OK but unfortunately we suffered a great personal loss at home so had to close a lot of the time through September. Ali worked a lot more which was brilliant as it meant we were open, but it also meant wages spent. I don't mean to be cryptic but I'd rather not splash what we went through on the net, but I'm still carrying it with me and I think this has affected me deeply and will for a long time and another reason that I lost grip on what was going on at the shop.

Anyway, as a broad stroke year 1 was good (according to my accountant anyway). Year two actually started amazingly with two sell out gigs, great attendances from the game and poetry night plus general trade. I realised I'd taken my eye of the ball in September but due to the nature of what I was going through, I'm not going to beat myself up over this. I spent October really trying to get it back on track and it did, with the shop having a bumper month in terms of footfall, attendances and sales. The book-side of the shop, which sometimes felt like an afterthought, was brought to the front and I've been trying to keep it there. We're a BOOKshop.

There have been bad habits picked up over the 14 months since opening. Eating and drinking my own stock was a bad trait that I expected to stop after a month but simply didn't! I'm pretty strict on it now. Tweets also became slow and lazy whereas before I was on it making conversation (the point of twitter folks). So where am I at the minute?

The folk club is going great guns. I'm happy there. I'm not however, getting complacent on the general promotion to increase the footfall. Relying on people to pass through Fargo and just pop in won't pay the bills so I'm still constantly looking for other means of letting people know 1) Coventry has a really cool bookshop, 2) That it's in a really cool creative area and 3) There's so much going on, plus we have a bar with cake and to just come in for Christ's sake.

The day to day running has changed too. In the summer I could easily just tweet or facebook throughout the day and waste a lot of time. I stopped reading books, I stopped reading news and I rested on my laurels. Today I see as a kind of kick up the arse to kick start the 'me' in bookshop. You know.

Alongside the promo (which I'll still mention but maybe less faceless) I'll be mentioning my good days, my bad days, the general consensus of running this place.

That was quite therapeutic to write all this. Although the bookshop wasn't exactly dead, to me it felt stale so I'm going to input more me, or rather introduce you to me again, and hopefully bring a bit more life back. God, I sound like I've hated it. I haven't. There were certainly moments but what I think I'm saying is, I'm here again, me, Michael. Not faceless grumpy tired bookshop man.


Thursday, 29 October 2015

Tom Cox book signing and talk

On November 17th we welcome Tom Cox to the shop to sign copies of his new book Close Encounters of the Furred Kind. He'll also be talking about his his cats, his golf, his love of the country and everything else inbetween. Tickets are already selling fast so book on line HERE or pop into the shop. Tickets can't be bought over the phone.

Join Tom Cox - nature and humour writer, failed pro golfer and creator of the @MYSADCAT Twitter account - as he reads
from, talks about and signs copies of his latest book, Close Encounters Of The Furred Kind. As well as episodes from Tom's life with five demanding and
eccentric cats, there'll be tales from his life in the Devon and Norfolk countryside and about his loud, excitable dad. Expect shouting, swearing and an unlikely story about a toad.

Doors open at 7pm. Start at 7.30.
Please note this is an over 18 event.

No food or drink to be brought onto the premises. Bar open serving hot and cold drinks, ale and wine plus cake!

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Happy Birthday to us!

It's just over a year since our doors opened. I'll get round to writing about it soon. This is just a wee thanks to all who have visited, both in person and digitally on line. You rock.


Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Louise Petit here on Friday

Louise Petit will be here for our Big Comfy Folk Club on Friday 14th Aug. In support will be Garfield Mayor and Little Bird. It's over half sold already and there are always late buyers so get your tickets quick before they go. Get them HERE

Watch Louise play a perfect cover for the Big Comfy Sessions.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

The Big Comfy Folk Club line-ups

The line-ups have been completed for our folk club til the end of the year. Please see for tickets or pop into the shop.

Nov 21st is BBC Radio 2 folk award winners Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker with support from Dan Wilde

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Keith James: The Songs of Nick Drake

Tomorrow (Wednesday 10th June) we host The Songs of Nick Drake from Keith James. Here's what the media had to say about him.

"Keith James has become a pillar of trust. A sublimely intimate and engaging voice." The Sunday Times

"Certainly the UKs most celebrated and evocative enterpreter of golden music" The Gurdian

So he's pretty good.

Tickets are £10 and available from this link HERE or pop into the shop today or tomorrow morning to pick some up.

There are not many tickets left so we may not have any on the door, or very few, so booking is highly recommended. 


Thursday, 4 June 2015

The Big Comfy Folk Club tomorrow Friday 5th June

The third Big Comfy Folk Club is on tomorrow with Ben Maggs, Rob Halligan and Dan Gascoigne. There are still tickets available from the shop and online and you can also buy on the door.

See more details on the Big Comfy Folk Club facebook page and event page.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

The Big Comfy Folk Club

Our gigs are very popular but I run all the aspects of the shop from the bar to the books to even the sound desk, so I've decided to scale back and only have 2 gigs a month. Because of this I've decided to create The Big Comfy Folk Club!

The Folk Club will consist of 3 acts, at least one being local, and showcase the best of the folk and acoustic music world. Already booked in are several Radio 2 Folk winners alongside fantastic up and coming local and national, and even international acts!

The club will happen on the 1st and 3rd Friday of the month, with a few exceptions. Some gigs were already booked in and so I've kept as many as I can that work in the time frame and those I've had to cancel I've done my best to sort the acts onto the new bill.
Tickets will be £5 per gig, of which 90% goes to the acts. We are however starting a membership scheme. Pay £25 for the year and you'll be able to get into the events for just £2 plus have advance ticket sales for bigger gigs. If you attend all the events that saves you nearly £50! If you are a Facebook person, please add yourself to the new Folk Club group HERE as this is where the information will be added on a regular basis, and you can take a quick glance at our upcoming schedule. If you're not on Facebook then all our gigs are on our Events page HERE. I've also added a dedicated Folk Club page HERE.

Tickets can be purchased directly from the shop or bought online Here. If you're interested in the membership then please pop in or send me an email at


Friday, 17 April 2015

Next week at The Big Comfy Bookshop: 21st - 26th April

Here's what's up next week.

Tuesday 21st
Firstly and mainly, its my birthday. I always book my birthday off but seeing as I'll have no one to run the shop, I'll be here with a party hat on. Open 10-6.

Wednesday 22nd
A student film crew will be in the shop from 10-4 so I need to make sure I'm not too hungover. Also, we have publicity for our Horrible Histories night in conjuncture with the Belgrade Theatre!
Open 10-6

Thursday 23rd
It's World Book Night! Come on down around 3pm as Stoke Heath library will be giving away a few books alongside us. Also it's the very first Late Night Opening til 8pm. I may not be here myself as I'm a guest at a film premier (ooooh). Read about it HERE. Also Fargo is hosting FargFest, a free festival with music, food and entertainment from 1-9.
Open 10-8.

Friday 24th
We're very pleased to host Tinderbox with Taylor-Louise as support. Tinderbox are an award winning folk duo and have played alongside Joan Armatrading, Turin Brakes and 10CC amongst others. Taylor-Louise is a young up and coming local singer songwriter who is working with 14records in Leamington. Tickets are £5 and available from the shop or online HERE.
Beforehand we'll be open from 10-6, doing book stuff probably.

Saturday 25th
Anne Garratt will be here signing copies of her book 'The Road Taken' about her emigration from Ireland to Coventry and back again. Here at 3pm.
Open 10-6

Sunday 26th
Nowt on but we're open and have lots of books.
Open 11-4

Thursday, 16 April 2015

The Big Comfy Sessions are 1!

This past weekend the Big Comfy Sessions turned a year old. Between Rob, Rich and I we cannot believe how lucky we have been. Our initial aim was to record a handful of videos with a few local musicians we know to help promote the opening of the shop and help musicians with a cool video, but after the first session with Wes Finch we received great praise and a few emails requesting sessions. After the first half a dozen we realised we were on to a winner with dozens of requests. We've all grown into our roles since that first session. Rich wields a camera and liaises and organises the majority of the acts (and makes gig posters too!), juggling a whole host of emails, whilst Rob, well, Rob has always been a pro with filming, editing, sound mixing and the brain child of the entire operation! I do the hard work of a 5 minute interview and give free coffee. Tough ;)

It's really been a dream to open a bookshop and to do it whilst hosting some top quality acts is the cherry on the top. I've discovered so many brilliant artists and hope that I've spread the word about these.

We've recorded 28 sessions which culminates in 56 videos (2 each), just a handful off 25k views, close to 250 subscribers and lots planned for the future. We already have 16 sessions booked going into October and are in talks with several others but we're always looking for more top talent!

Please check out Redwood Photography, The Spoon Player blog and of course The Big Comfy Sessions.
We already have our first session of 'year two' this Saturday!

If you are an artist wishing to book a session please head on over to HERE.

Finally a huge thank you to Victoria who let us use the Tree House Bookshop in Kenilworth whilst my shop was being built. She was a wonderful host. The shop was forced to close at Christmas but it's just reopened in a better location in Kenilworth and I look forward to visiting.

I'll leave you with our last session where I got to chat to the lovely Ross AKA Blue Rose Code and hear him play Oh, North, my favourite off his album The Ballads of Peckham Rye.


Friday, 27 March 2015

We're hiring!

Part time Vacancy

The Big Comfy Bookshop is looking for someone to join our busy bookshop

We're looking for someone who has a love and passion for books, a keen reader that knows how to pour a cup of coffee with a smile. As we are a licensed premises we will be looking for someone aged 18+.

Hours: Saturday 10am-6pm, 8 hours a day with a 30min lunch break.

The opportunity for additional hours on occasional Sundays 10.30am-4pm, plus busy weekdays and regular events, are available. We preferably would like one new team member but may look at hiring a second to cover the hours required.

Position title: Book Seller Assistant

The Big Comfy Bookshop is an equal opportunities employer and will welcome applications from everyone.

Pay is calculated hourly at minimum wage.

The Big Comfy Bookshop is located in Fargo Village, a new development host to new creative businesses in Coventry. The Village is a destination for shoppers who are looking for a different experience to the high street. The Big Comfy Bookshop is a second hand bookshop with a cafe/bar element. It hosts regular events such as book signings, poetry evenings and acoustic music nights.

Duties will include serving hot and cold beverages, handling cash, running a till, selling books, serving cakes, general cleaning duties, customer service including advice on books, contributing to marketing, cataloguing and stock taking, maintaining excellent hygiene systems in place and anything else that will help in the day to day running of the bookshop.

The job requires a good knowledge of books and the ideal applicant must have a passion for reading. They must have excellent communication skills and a pleasant demeanour to be working with the public. Good numeracy skills are required as well as general proficiency with IT. Previous experience of similar work is preferred but not essential.

Qualifications: Although specific qualifications are not necessary, successful candidates will be able to demonstrate that they are the right person for the job through their experience and qualifications. For example, numeracy skills may be evidenced by a minimum Grade C in GCSE mathematics.

In general, we are looking for an efficient and friendly person to join our team. Two references will be required before short-listed applicants are offered the post.

To apply please send your CV with a covering letter to

Michael McEntee
The Big Comfy Bookshop
Fargo Village
Far Gosford Street

Alternatively email your CV with a covering letter to:

Please title your email 'Bookshop Application <Name>'

Closing date: April 3rd

Short-listed applicants will be invited to an interview at The Big Comfy Bookshop. If you are not contacted by April 10th, please consider your application unsuccessful.

Start date: ASAP through negotiation.

All information provided is confidential and will not be shared with third parties.
We will use your information for the purposes of administration and selecting suitable candidates.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Happy new year! (Yes it's February)

One thing is for sure, I'm rubbish at keeping this blog up to date.
I hope you had a great 2014 and 2015 is going strong. In 2014 I opened the shop and had a second son so overall I can't complain. I've done neither of these things in 2015. I have however continued to build on what ideas I had last year. We've just started a retro game night in collaboration with fellow Fargo shop The Entertainment Bros. We smashed ten bells out of each other on Mario Kart and next week we'll stalk, shoot and generally shout at the screen as we play Goldeneye.
One thing that's snowballed is the folk gigs. We're currently booking into June with a few even booked into October. Ontop of this the Big Comfy Sessions are going strong too.

Plus we have lots of books still.

I've found it difficult to do any actual reading due to the shop and new baby. Today I finished our book club book from December and I'm about to finish our book from July! Audiobooks have been a saviour as I drive to and from work. I tend to pick up the cheapest ones I can regardless of what it is and they seem to almost always be biographies. Sharon Osbourne (brilliant), Alex James (fabulous), Ellen McCarthur (whoop! Sailing!) plus loads more. Currently I've just started the 23 hour unabridged Life by Keith Richards, read by Jonny Depp.

I hope to keep this more up to date. I hope.