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 Book Shops > Is the New Site OK?

Is the New Site OK?

This might seem like a strange question to ask, but the new site has been live for 4 months and I’m surprised by the lack of feedback. Alice, who knows about these things, says I shouldn’t be: “If it was crap, dad, they would have told you.”

Unfortunately, it is crap for the handful of readers who have contacted me about stability issues with the “dynamic” navigation menus. However, in most of these cases this appears to be because they were using Windows XP and or, old web browsers

We tested the new navigation extensively on all but the most obscure current web browsers and they worked fine … but we only tested it on machines running Windows 7 – 10. It seems that if you are running an unsupported version of windows, you won’t have received the updates that ensure that these CCS scripts are stable.

If you still use XP, I can only apologise for this. I simply didn’t realise that (despite the security and functionality issues associated with running a 14 year old operating system) more than 10% of all Windows users are still on XP.

I’m unhappy about anyone finding the site difficult to use, so I’m trying to find a way to generate a human user-friendly site map, as an alternative form of navigation. However, it seems that nowadays site map generators are aimed at robot visitors.

And I would be the first to admit that “dynamic” menus can take some getting used to, but they are worth persevering with because they allow such easy and intuitive access to our databases. For instance: you can find the secondhand bookshops in any town or city in the UK and Southern Ireland - without leaving the page you are on – and then visit them in 1 click.

But if, for any reason you are experiencing difficulties with the new menus, here are some suggestions that should improve the experience.

Firstly, you can easily use the navigation in the same limited way you did on the old site:

1) Hover over 'By location' with your cursor - then click anywhere on the white space of the first ('Regions') menu.

2) You should now be able to hover over the 'Regions' list and then click on one of the 'Counties' listed on second fly-out menu. This takes you to a 'County' page - which displays all the shop details in an alphabetical scrolling list - just as on the old site.

3) However, using the third 'Town' fly-out menu tells you which towns have shops - and you can visit them directly - without further searching. Having visited the shops in a your chosen town - you can then visit all the shops in that 'County' - by clicking on it in the 'breadcrumb trail' navigation at the head of the page.

And finally, something that helps when using fly-out menus is to remember to keep moving horizontally ... and resist taking diagonal short cuts, or the menu will collapse.

Getting the new site up and debugged - and then having to debug again following a change of server software forced on us by our hosting company - consumed all the development time Colin and I could muster this year.

However, for the first time I feel the TheBookGuide site is the best tool we can fashion for telling our readers “how and where to get physical with old books.” Both the front and back ends now work well, so hopefully this will allow me more time to develop content in 2016.

Anyway, new site or not, the real achievements of 2015 belonged to our readers. More reports of openings and closings … towns, cities, counties and large chunks of whole countries, meticulously updated … by you … and your reviews … so many informative, challenging, and funny reviews.

At year end then, a handful of complaints - but lots of evidence that the site continues to grow in popularity and reader involvement - so maybe Alice is right?

Mike Goodenough

I’ve written previously about these subjects in: ‘Rumours of the secondhand bookshop's death are greatly exaggerated’ (2005) ‘The writing on the wall’ (2009) and ‘Now we are ten’ (2011), 'An end of term report' (2012) and 'Where are we now?' (2015). The first two attempted to address the endless scare stories about the certain death of bookshops (and to give some figures) whilst the most recent looked at the development of TheBookGuide over 15 years.


03.01.16. Mike, I find the new system great, I run Safari as a browser and it can be picky but no problems with this site.

Without this site I would be limited by a 15 year old copy of SKOOB 7. The largest and best of the guides, well thumbed but with only my comments and thoughts written in manuscript. It was out of date as soon as it was printed and Skoob have no plans to produce another which is not surprising given TBG existing.

I remain eternally grateful for all the comments and reviews which inform my book buying and perambulations ‘around the whole island of Great Britain’, highly amused that the spirit of Driff survives (among reviewers and the occasional rant from bookshop owners) and that there are enough of us to visit, support and continue to love secondhand bookshops and the lunatics that run them in the digital age. Many as you have mentioned are in rude health, and it appears from Booksellers' responses that our comments are taken seriously.

Without the guide and the reviewers my ability to satisfy my habit (Book buying, book possession and reading ) would be severely diminished . Next time I am in Stroud, I will bring a bottle. Mike you deserve it! Thanks again! - JM.

03.01.16. Dear Mike, I don't know what you've done, but just used your site and all the "drop-downs" to look for bookshops were behaving as they should. They held instead of flitting about as they did before when I wrote to you.

I read what you wrote about some people, usually those using XP, being the ones who seem to have problems and I felt a bit guilty I'd caused you worry. You've obviously put a lot of time and effort in. I thought it a bit odd I was having trouble, even if on XP, as I use sites like Rightmove daily and have no trouble with their drop-downs.

Anyway, tonight it was working perfectly for me so thought I'd let you know. I would still use your site even if it hadn't improved as it is such a useful one. And I love reading the comments people leave about the shops. I take it all with a pinch of salt and judge for myself when I visit shops.

So, I definitely do not think your site is crap in any way and you listen to Alice - she's quite right.

Happy New Year, Susan C.

04.01.16. Hello Mike

Alice is right! The revamped site is excellent - even though these words "failed a security check" in the comments box; I'm sure the fault is at my end. One particular advantage: the ability to edit locations means I can print out details for just the town I am visiting, when previously I had to print out the whole county.

Keep up the good work! The spirit of Drif lives on...

Happy New Year, Nicholas Sack.

07.01.16. The problem with the comments form has now been fixed. TBG.

10.01.16. Yep, fine here. Firefox on Windows 7 and Firefox on Macbook. The dynamic menus are a bit sensitive but that might just be me being a bit cack handed! This site is a fabulous resource. - Flip M.

28.05.16. Like the site, wonderful for planning, fun for browsing. - Michael.

15.07.16. Generally, yes. It is very interesting and entertaining to browse and most useful as a resource when visiting other areas; I wouldn't want to be without it. Maybe it's just me but I couldn't get a response to 'Contact Us' on the drop down menu. - Nodnerg.
     The 'Contact Us' link should just bring up your email client. A couple of people have reported that it doesn't work for them but as it works on all the devices I've tested it on, I think it must be to do with your email settings. - Mike Goodenough, Editor.

22.10.16. Not only OK, but as good as if not better than ever. I'm not sure if I should attempt to navigate it after a glass or two but once I got the hang of the steering I found it worked really well. I'm using Firefox and Windows 10 and it feels like I'm back in touch with an old friend. All the best Mike. - Arthur Hook

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