Friday, February 04, 2005

My Interstellar Journey to the Forbidden Planet

I was invited down to London yesterday for a friendly chat at Forbidden Planet International after they had contacted me last week. FP are wanting to improve their graphic novels and SF books side of the business and wanted someone who could promote good books, select them and who was enthusiastic for the genre (there are plenty of folks at FP who, like me, are seriously into the books, comics, RPGs etc which they sell; they retail them but they are also fans). They had heard of me though all that had happened and liked what they saw - the kind words of support from you all has really helped here and again I thank you all.

I will be based in the Edinburgh branch and start on Monday 14th - so a nice Valentine's present for me as Matthew remarked - with interaction with other crew and perhaps some branch visits etc as required. Obviously I am happy to be going back to work again - it is a great weight off me. I am even more delighted to be going to a better job (and better pay, thank you) where my enthusiasm, knowledge and skills have been actively sought and encouraged.

I am also over the moon to remain in the book trade and to be in a position where I can continue to promote good writing and exciting new authors. I'll be doing online work and hopefully working with the store staff on in-shop material too. We have ideas to begin with but it is the kind of new post that is going to mutate as it goes along and I'm sure both FP and myself will be coming up with new directions and ideas for me to perform. Frankly I'm looking forward to that aspect of the post - it will be a lot of work but I'm sure if I can promote good SF in a mainstream store I can really do it here. The fact that the post is likely to grow and change as we think on new areas I can contribute to is great and I'm pleased that I'm still going to be a part of the SF community as a fan, a reviewer and a bookseller.

And no, I didn't meet Leslie Neilsen or Robbie the Robot on the journey (and I was on the look out for Monster from the ID) and if I am honest it was inter-city rather than interstellar, but that's artistic license for you :-). I did have a trip into deepest, darkest Essex to visit the warehouse. There were so many piles of Spike figures from Buffy that it would have had female fans of James Masters (and some of the boys too I guess) exploding from the groin outwards. There was an incredible Spider-Man which was basically a life-size decoration - I know one mate who would love it as an alternative garden ornament (beats the hell out gnomes, but harder to take on airplane rides a la Amelie).


Blogger Miriam Jones said...


Is the UK Fobidden Planet connected to the one in Manhattan? They seem to be moving away from books and concentrating on comics, action figures, and other stuff. A shame. Glad to hear this is not the case in the UK.

3:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, I'm not sure - I've just been given a list of the stores in the UK and Republic of Ireland. Certainly there was more book focus in previous years. Some branches still do but I think it will be good to put more focus onto books and graphic novels again. Merchandising is obviously a big sales area and will continue to be, but its nice to see the interest in literature again too. Should be fun!

3:51 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Nice one, congrats.

4:52 PM  
Blogger TryingTimes said...


Excellent news and a prime-sounding job. Congratulations

6:32 PM  
Blogger MarkFarley said...

Hey There Joe,

Thats great about the Forbidden Planet job,

What goes around comes around my friend and you deserve all the luck in the world. I am sure that there are people twiddling their thumbs and sulking at their desks after realising that they have lost Scotland's best bookseller.

If you do come down to the big smoke, check in your former colleagues.

Mark. Notting Hill Branch.

6:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi there, I'm a fairly new reader who found you through a friend's LJ site.

I've not posted before, but have been rooting for you silently from the far northern reaches of Idaho, USA.

Congrats on the new job, and I hope it turns out to be even better than you expect!

LJ user expansive_vista

7:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations - really wonderful news, and I think you're a very wise investment on FP's part. All best wishes, and have a wonderful time with the new job - you deserved a break!

7:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well done on the new job. Don't twat it up like the last one.

8:14 PM  
Blogger flok dekoke said...

So your adventure ends well with fame and glory as you head towards the sunset on Forbidden Planet. I like a happy ending.

8:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice one. BTW did FP ask for any "pre-nup" web self-censorship, or did you volunteer any? Been following your story with interest, and glad to hear you've got a good position. I suppose it means if WS found in the wrong, they can save face and offer you your old job back.

Hamish, Queensland, Australia

8:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations! I'm so glad that something good's come out of this for you. (Although, discretion being the better part of valour, and all that, maybe a discreet job-related blog blackout might be the way to go. I'm all for free speech and freedom of artistic expression anallthat, but I'm also in favour of staying employed and being able to pay the rent and, you know, eat.)

In honour of your new status, I shall refrain from calling FP 'Forbidding Prices' for at least, er, until I forget, and not say nasty things about their new London superstore. Even if it is really just a big supermarket that happens to sell SF ...

And yesterday, while buying populist three-for-two easy-reads (oh god, I am turning into Richard and Judy's target audience), I didn't go to Waterstones. I went to Borders, that bastion of freedom and democracy. Cough/ "That'll show 'em!" I thought, and also "Nya!"

I once got fired from a small SF book shop chiefly because the manager's wife didn't like me. Tragically, there were no blogs in those days, so no-one cared much ...

Congratulations again, and I hope it works out wonderfully for you.

- Hilary B.

10:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's good news - the Edinburgh store in particular seems to have moved away from books recently, which makes me sad. It would be nice to see more than a couple of shelves of novels in there, and a good selection of the stuff that Waterstones and so forth don't stock.

12:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice one Joe. See you in FP in a couple of weeks.

12:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fantastic, that's cheered me up no end.

Matt - lowkeyknight on lj

12:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It would be great to actually get some new SF in FP - have stopped even popping in on the off chance as it has no decent book stock and isn't a terribly pleasant place to be in.

Good luck and I hope it all goes well

1:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great news!

1:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

*great big huge smiles*That's wonderful!

I've been (silently) following your plight from the States, and I'm relieved to hear that you're going to be somewhere that you're appreciated and wanted...

Oh, and being an American, i can add one crucial tip from our society... SUE M&S for lots of money!

*laughing, winking, and wandering out*Desi
(littlegoth @ Live Journal)

1:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really do hope they improve the SF selection across the country; the Belfast branch doesn't stock /any/ SF books at all (although they are very apologetic about it). All the comics I read are there, though ,and their graphic novels section is pretty good so I'm not complaining.

Good luck in your new job!

(a random fan)

2:28 PM  
Blogger Carl V. said...

Congratulations! Sounds like an awesome job. I've followed your travails via Neil Gaiman's site. I've just started blogging myself and the tales of what happened with you certainly give one pause. I'm really happy for you and wish you much success.

3:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From Little Miss Jobcentre

I am so pleased your story has a happy ending :) I am also doubly pleased theres someone who loves books dealing with graphic novels :)

3:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:23 PM  
Blogger mce said...

Saw your story via Neil Gaiman's blog, that's awesome news about the FP Edinburgh job, hopefully I'll get to have a chat with you about trades when I'm doing my thursday comics pilgrimage.

5:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brilliant news! Great to see a happy ending. That said I hope you can still stick it to Bast@rdstones.



8:37 PM  
Blogger Paper Knife said...

Having followed the saga from a distance, and being displeased with Waterstone's as a result, good luck with your new role at FP. I hope it turns out to be everything you want, and more.

9:00 PM  
Blogger Chenanceou said...

That's great news!

1:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

With more than 3 decades in the books biz (small independent, mail order, chain, and now with a university press) it seems to me that after a certain point one is doomed to be in the biz forever. So it was almost inevitable you'd be doing something with books. Congrats.

& in your new position you may this of interest: .

- Michael Walsh

4:35 AM  
Blogger Doctor Sordid said...

Congratulations on the new job, Joe; I hope it is all you hope it to be. Now, you can make me a happy man, if you can just get them to turn the damn music down in the Edinburgh store...

10:10 AM  
Blogger Dave Shelton said...

Am I right in thinking that the Scottish branches of FP are in some way separate from the English ones? I seem to remember having read this somewhere in the past. It would certainly explain how the Glasgow branch could be so good when I was there on holiday last year while my local branch here in Cambridge is pretty wretched (judging, here, with the bias of a comics reader - if large posable figures of Lord of the Rings characters are your thing then you'd probably view it less harshly). Anyway, on that scant evidence I'd guess the Edinburgh branch should be pretty good. Best of luck with it.

1:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Joe. So pleased to hear this. And great for FP.

It is extraordinary that Waterstones seem to have decided to deliberately move away from staff expertise at a time when other bookshops are realising that staff expertise is part of their attraction - otherwise, why bother going to a bookshop when you can just preview and order a book from Amazon? Books Etc (and presumably Borders) seem to have decided to go the other direction. Just before Christmas, I was in a small branch in the City of London and discovered a small, but perfectly formed, graphic novel section. When I commented on it at the tills, the guy helping me beamed and explained that it was his baby and the manager had given him the go-ahead to make over that area and see how it did. Because the shop was empty, we then spent a very pleasant 10 minutes geeking graphic novels and discussing what he was going to stock!

I'm glad to see that FP is following the same route.


1:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's great news :) I hope that you're happy in your new position. The Edinburgh store seems to be a nice place to work, and Steve who works there is an enthusiastic, friendly guy who's nuts about his sci-fi and comics, so you should find yourself in good company, working with genuine fans rather than the 'couldn't care less' crowd on princes st.
Well done and all the best!

10:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great news. About time. Congratulations…. And Whew!
I haven’t being able to get your FP link going. But have had a look at the one via your Mathew’s link. Computer games, toys and comics being about all there is. From that, and reading that FP are want to improve their graphic novels and SF books, I reckon that means they’ll really need your help, enthusiasm, knowledge, expertise and passion to help make it work for them. You will certainly have a challenge, if that website is anything to go by, but I suspect that’s just more relish for you.
Evidentially, therefore, between yourself and FP, you have made a decision embarking for exciting times ahead.
That is good news to.
Best wishes. A.c.

8:07 AM  
Blogger Linda said...

Brilliant!!! So pleased that you've found a great new job. We have one of their stores in Sheffield where I live and although I don't visit them very often, I always enjoy myself when I do go.
PS. I haven't commented before but I've been following your blog since the Guardian article appeared :) And haven't bought anything in Bastardstones since...

12:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's such great news. I also knew about this through Neil Gaiman - although I live in Edinburgh and, indeed, used to work in That Place (a different branch, though). And I've bought stuff from Forbidden Planet. The folks there are extremely friendly and helpful, although not quite so tolerant of people like me who need to flick through a book before they can decide whether or not to invite it into their home... (Yes, I can totally see why they have a problem with this. It's just that I can't make up my mind unless I've had a good look, so they have probably lost a sale or two that way. It's entirely my own fault!)

Best of luck and all that. I'll come in and smile.

12:59 PM  
Blogger JGRAM said...

Congratulations. Forbidden Planet is a great store. As a fellow victim of doocing you really give hope and optimism, especially in the light that you have actually now gained a better job. I've just returned from a second interview from a dream job for me also EXCEPT I've not been 100% honest about my dismissal reasons (whoops). Fingers crossed. Best of luck with your new job, it'll be a good Valentines for you

8:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a long-time employee of FP New York (where we DO carry books again), let me welcome you to the family!

1:28 AM  
Blogger lisa said...

I like this weblog. I think I am gonna post my message here.

11:25 AM  
Blogger jonnydark said...

Greeting from Belfast Joe.Welcome to the FP family. Having recently moved to a bigger store in a better location maybe the random fan would care to visit our new store. They will see that FP Belfast does carry a very extensive range of SF & Fantasy books.
Anything missing they only have to ask.

12:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joe, congrats. Twat-stones will now never - EVER - get my business.

Talk about a stupid bunch of muppets – lol.

Priceless (or profit less, most likely),

1:09 AM  
Anonymous Rhea said...

Fantastic news and what a fantastic job!! :o)

6:16 PM  
Blogger Zinnia Cyclamen said...

THAT is FABULOUS news!!! Funny how sometimes a disaster can ultimately result in an overall life improvement. Best of luck!

2:28 PM  
Blogger Miss Green Gamer said...

I Live in Edinburgh, and love Forbidden planet and that's the most heartwarming and lovely story I've heard since the one about Greyfriars Bobby :)
Best of luck in everything you do.

1:32 AM  
Anonymous Rufus William Offor said...

Good to hear the good news, the job that actually appreciates you... living the dream brother! Maybe you could help me live mine. I've written a book I think you might like, have a look at the first three chapters at
Its a piss take of the DaVinci code of sorts, but includes a rather miserable supernatural detective.

3:03 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

Hi, Rufus,

Thank you and the book looks interesting, but after recent upsets my reading concentration isn't up to scratch at the moment and I'm just going to slowly go through the pile I have at the moment when I can get the focus together.

7:45 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home