‘I can’t stand International Women’s Day.’ Peirene turned off the radio. ‘Women are great. Women are powerful. Women will change the world. Since I woke up this morning, I haven’t heard anything else. One day of idle chatter won’t change anything. If you want gender equality you have to work at it over generations.’
Peirene bent over her keyboard and her fingers hammered furiously. ‘And anyway, if there is a Women’s Day, there should at least be a Nymph’s Day too. What about equality for ancient Greeks nymphs? ‘ Then she muttered just in earshot ‘Judging by the atmosphere in this office, I don’t think that exists yet’.
Molly and I both refrained from commenting. After a few minutes though Molly cleared her throat: ‘Well, I think we shouldn’t ignore Women’s Day completely. We can be proud. 57.8% of our authors and 61.9% of our translators are women. So why don’t we launch a flash sale for one day and put all 19 of our women authored and translated books on sale at half price. Maybe we will increase their exposure today?’
Peirene rolled her eyes. ‘I won’t hold my breath. People talk but they don’t act. Even on women’s day.’
‘Molly, I think it’s a brilliant idea’ I intercepted ‘let’s do it.’ But what I didn’t say was that I, too, suspected that we wouldn’t win many sales. We run monthly offers, and usually that leads to about 5 new customers. Not more. Still, I liked Molly’s enthusiasm.
‘You see, that’s what I mean,’ Peirene now let her gaze travel from me to Molly and then back to me. ‘My opinions don’t seem to count any longer. My rights as a Nymph are being ignored. My voice goes unheard. It’s the Ancient Greek Nymphs that are silenced in this world, day in, day out. And no one stands up for their rights.’
Two hours later and we had already received 20 new orders. Some bought one book, others four or five, and a few bought also non-sales books. And so far we had only promoted the offer on twitter. Now Molly ran a special advertisement on facebook and then she sent an email to our mailing list. The response was fantastic. By midnight over 80 orders had come in and we had sold nearly 250 books. Our best online sales day ever.
The next day Peirene walked in carrying a pink cake. ‘For the three of us to share!,’ she announced. ‘I’ve totally changed my mind about Women’s Day.’ Then she smiled at me sweetly. ‘And of course I don’t mind the lack of an International Nymph’s Day. I’m not that badly treated. I was just a tiny bit jealous. So,’ her smile turned even sweeter, ‘how about just a one-off Nymph’s Day? Today. I was wondering – since we earned so much yesterday – whether you could you give me a pay rise? I’ll then take the day off to check out the spring fashion.’
Sadly, I couldn’t give Peirene the day off. There were all the new orders to deal with.
‘I thought we are all sisters,’ Peirene grumbled. ‘Isn’t that part of the International Women’s Day idea. Sisterhood and love and support among all women worldwide. But you don’t behave like my sister. You behave like my boss.’ The Nymph pulled a face.
I laughed. ‘I am your boss, Peirene. And that means I express my love for you by keeping our priorities in mind. And first of all we need to send out the books. Otherwise our customers will become dissatisfied and might even cancel their orders.’ I paused. ‘And if all the work gets done today, I might give you a lie-in tomorrow morning.’
By Meike Ziervogel
Image by Helena Jacoba, creative commons.
This blog was originally published on 13 March 2018 as part of Peirene Press‘s series Things Syntactical. The Pain and Passion of a Small Publisher.