Doina Hanu, owner of the Nautilus bookshop in Bucharest, has been a regular user of Batch for many years. Here she explains how the system helps her business to thrive – and why there's a royal bear in her shop.
Where is the Nautilus bookshop? The bookshop is in a residential area not fit for business. But, as we are mainly wholesalers, it started as a showroom for retailers.
How large is the shop? It is very small, but the customers are happy because they say the selection is very good and they can always easily find what they’re looking for or discover something. Besides, we also have a cat which makes the bookshelves look alive, especially when she jumps on people from behind or from under the books. Cosy bookshop, cute cat…
How many people work there? In the bookshop there are four of us. Not all of us are in at the same time – the customers would not have enough space to move, especially when there are kids chasing the cat. However, I miss my son Daniel who knows everything about the books on the shelves and has a special gift to almost instantly befriend grandparents and grandchildren, noisy teenagers and grumpy teachers… He has been working with us since he was a pre-schooler and we set up Nautilus, about 16 years ago.
What kinds of books do you sell? We sell only English language books. No textbooks, no books for exams. Many books for children, for teenagers (or ‘young adults’, as they like to call them now), classical and modern fiction. We have the best – and most generous in the country – selection of Sci-Fi and Fantasy and, as a bonus, we brought in some graphic novels. We also have a special shelf dedicated to Britain and British people, and here we can really enjoy the British irony which is so healthy! Starting from here – some books on politics and global economy that should be interesting for our politicians: unfortunately, they buy their books from somewhere else. And, to soften the depressing feeling induced by such books, we put beside them the beautiful Collector’s Library series and some art books. We’d also like to sell Romanian authors translated into English, but I can hardly find this kind of book.
How long have you been using Batch? I wanted to use Batch from the very beginning. My visit to London Book Fair always started with the Booksellers Association stall. Unfortunately, only after January 2007, when Romania joined the European Union, our local bank accepted the idea of allowing us to pay to Batch and not separately to each supplier. I joined the Booksellers Association maybe ten years ago, as we do not have a similar organisation in Romania and I was simply enchanted to see how a professional community can work for the common wellbeing.
Batch and Your Business
How does using Batch help? They have simply taken over an important part of my job. Not only that Eileen and Linda taught me by phone, step by step, how to do it – what patience! – but the Batch system is great because it also contains invoices I never receive with the books or credit notes. So goodbye to my incomplete lists and to the monthly stress of trying not to forget to pay something in due time! I also receive calls and e-mails reminding me the deadline for authorising the payments and this way I can concentrate better on my job and I have a better night’s sleep. Simplifying my relation with so many suppliers, Batch allows me to expand the number of contacts without fearing I would lose trace of my debts. And then, when I make mistakes that terrify me and make me think I turned the system upside down, Eileen and Linda are always there to solve the problem with calm and a kindness I would not show to myself. Besides, I have a very sweet feeling of revenge when I order only one transfer to my bank and the fees are about GBP £40.00 compared to the time when I had to pay GBP £40,00 for every transfer to every supplier. However, I have never counted the saved money, fearing I should hate my bank too much. Finally, Batch acts like a moral instance; the consequence is hygienic for the book business, offering to the suppliers a clearer view of the booksellers’ health estate.
How did you feel about winning the Prince William teddy bear from Batch in 2011? I was simply astonished. It is so British, so suffused with a delicate significance, made with so much love and care. It was so very special to receive it just before the royal wedding. I have an uncle, Dr John Dingle, former professor at Oxford. When my son asked him why he felt he was British, he said ‘Because I am a loyal subject of Her Majesty the Queen’. From all the things he could have said ‘in his defence’, he chose this. I saw the excitement of the people anticipating the wedding. Princess Diana was special for us, Prince Charles loves Romanian nature and often visits our country; we watched, in a way, William growing up and he will be king one day. Because I deeply respect your people, I simply cannot define how important this very prize was for me as a symbol. On top of that, I did not feel I deserved such a prize, just because of all its connotations.
Where is William now? He is looking through the library window to the park across the street. Among books, he looks like a little king and the engagement ring shines in the sun.
Nautilus English Books
Str. Arhitect Ion Mincu, nr. 17 Sector 1
Tel: 021 2225030, 021 2233256
Fax: 021 2230037