Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match
19th April 2011 - Rachael Lloyd
I don't know when I first became obsessed with matching things, but before it became a productive feature of my work with books, it began with clothes. Maybe it started with teen magazines, in articles that spoke of seasonal colour palettes and encouraged adolescent girls to discover their 'season' in order to match their clothes and make up accordingly. (I was winter - I still remember because I thought it meant I had to style myself after Cruella de Vil).
Anyway, these days I find it hard to leave the house without having colour-matched my outfit or accessories in some way, to the degree that I would have to make a concerted effort to be fashionably clashing.
This fixation also extends to my home. I recently organised my books by colour, an eye-pleasing spectrum that's perhaps more suited to interiors than is practical for bookshops. Each of the rooms in my flat has a theme. I even made sure my cat's collar suited her coat and eyes.
But before you denounce me as a woman on the brink, just stop for a moment and ponder. For I know you are the same as me, deep down. Just admit it.
I know this because at Foyles St Pancras I started matching things, and it worked. That's right - I took my obsession to the workplace. If you can't implement a little light OCD in your job, then where can you use it?
First I got all matchy-matchy with our range of toys. We've got huge romping Gruffalos, giddy Spot the dogs, jewel-green and grinning Enormous Crocodiles and the softest Miffy ever. I didn't even have to think twice before pairing them with the books from which these furry denizens sprang. It just seemed natural. And our customers seemed to think so too - they bought them as gift sets for lucky children. Eventually they got their own permanent table, a joyful medley of toy and book.
So I and my colleagues swept across the store like matchmakers for inanimate objects, uniting travel accessories with travel guides, colouring pens with activity books, Penguin mugs with penguins. (Okay, that last one's not true; we put them with Penguin Classics, of course).
And then we expanded our range of DVDs and audiobooks. Never has a girl been so happy - as a lover of seeing the book then watching the adaptation (preferably consecutively, though not in the order you'd expect) and hopefully owning both, I fully anticipated that our customers would join me in my quest for this twinset of culture. I was not wrong.
Once I thought we might have gone too far: for the 50th anniversary of the infamous paperback publication of Lady Chatterley's Lover, we collated the book, the Penguin mug, not one but two adaptations (one by director Ken Russell, which you may remember stars Sean Bean and Joely Richardson, and one lesser-known version by French director Pascale Ferran), the BBC drama the Chatterley Affair and even a free Foyles Lady Chatterley is sold out heritage bookmark. It turned out like a sort of priapic shrine to David Herbert (I'm sure he would've approved). It was all very orange but, thankfully, popular too.
So the matching at St Pancras continues. Promotions make me particularly excited, and I do believe we've the finest selection of monarchy books and films at the moment, and well as a chuffing great range of train-related titles. Come in sometime and just maybe we'll match you up with your heart's desire.
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Julia Donaldson; Axel Scheffler