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Here goes...I hate to be the bearer of bad news....                                             07/05/2017

Hello book nutters,

I hope you are all well and all reading the most wonderful books. 

Unfortunately, I come to you today with a blog post I never wanted to write.  It has stemmed from a lot of thinking, working our sums, planning and heartache over the past few months and despite trying to remain positive and hopeful as I always do, reality does have to kick in at some stage.

You may remember in my previous post, I expressed that with working at least 6 days a week and the little money I take home, something had to give…

Well… here goes.

Our lovely, wonderful, tiny yet beautiful little Bookshop will be closing on 16th June.

I know you many of you will be disappointed, I see the love for our little Book Nut frequently in reviews and posts on the internet, and through comments I overhear inside, and outside the shop door.  I am sorry to bring such sad news.

I have been so lucky to spend the past 3 years setting up and building The Book Nut to what it is now.  We have brought so many wonderful Authors and Illustrators to the children that visit our shop, and have loved giving you our recommendations, showing you the wide variety of books available to you – not just those shown to you on a website algorithm.   We have worked with local schools and ran some utterly brilliant book clubs full of children who adore reading, making me laugh each time with their enthusiasm for the books they are talking about.  Not to mention our Bookshop Dog who has had a great time getting to know our younger book nutters, sniffing them and lying next to them while they read.  The Book Nut really has been a wonderful shop and I have been proud to own such a little hub of bookish love.

But sadly, for personal reasons, I am no longer able to keep the shop running.  It breaks my heart to let the bookshop go but unfortunately it is a decision I have to make.  I am sorry to let down our customers, you, our wonderful book nutters.  We have loved talking all things books (and cats, dogs, cakes, car journeys, sewing machines and many other wonderful things). 

From now until we close, we are running a sale, after all we have a shop full of books to sell.  Please come down and see us one last time.  We would love to see you and it is an opportunity to get some good books at discounted prices.

We will keep the website, facebook and twitter page going, we will not be gone entirely. I plan to still hold stalls in school fetes where possible, and to keep you up to date on the latest and most beautiful books to hit the shelves.  You will also be able to order your personalised books through the website at Christmas and the illustration side will be continuing for all your commissions.  The Book Nut will live on…

One final word, once we have closed, please continue to support your local indie Bookshops and your libraries to keep them going.  You have a wonderful Children’s bookshop in Brentwood ‘Chicken and Frog’ who I whole heartily recommend for their book selection, their events and their book clubs.

Thank you book nutters.  You have been awesome.

Hazel, Pam and Gizmo x

The Future of The Book Nut and how you can help.....                                           26/04/2017

Well it has been a while since my last blog post and I realise that there is quite a bit to catch up with on this website.  In this blog post I wanted to share my reflection, some insight and thoughts about The Book Nut, and hopefully give you a chance for input into its future.

It has been nearly a year since I moved our little Book Nut downstairs in the Craft Village, and despite a handful of customers being disappointed with the size of the shop (we no longer have room for beanbags!), the feedback has been for the most part very positive.  A lot of our lovely book nutters can see that we have fitted in the same number of books (more even with an adult section) and love that it is far more accessible for prams, pushchairs and wheelchairs.  I certainly see a lot more people come through our doors on a far more regular basis so take this as a good sign.  All in all, it has been a great move for The Book Nut and I am so grateful for all the support our customers give us.

In the book community, it is no surprise to find that Indie Bookshops up and down the country are struggling to pay their bills.  Recent months have seen bookshops putting out social media appeals and setting up crowdfunding to keep their bookshops going.  As much as people love having a local bookshop, and we do have people coming in every week for their bookish fix, it is a battle at the end of each month to pay the rent and suppliers. 

At Barleylands our rent is as low as we can get, but unfortunately the footfall is also low as a result.  During weekdays, we can have days where we only see a couple of customers, weekends keep us going.  School holidays are a mixed bag as while a lot of people come over with their families for the farm, they are often understandably too tired to walk around the shops afterwards. 

The Book Nut is doing far better being downstairs and just about covers its own costs.  Unfortunately it does little more than that and despite working 6 days a week (as required on the site) I am yet to earn anywhere near minimum wage (even by 1990s standards) if anything at all.  I am not alone in this and know that there are fellow booksellers facing this problem each month.  This is not an appeal for sympathy, but more of an awareness of the plights of small business owners.  In truth, we do not do what we do for the money, but for the community we work with and for the books.  But… working at least 6 days a week is exhausting and the lack of income means something has to give at some point, and certainly do not want to get to that stage.

The challenge is, what do we do about it?

You all love books, that’s why you come to The Book Nut and why you have read this far (wow this is a long post).  Because you are all wonderful book nutters there are a couple of things I am asking of you,

Firstly, I want your suggestions as to what we can do going forward to make not only make the bookshop busier, but to make it last.  I am in here all day, most days and get stuck into a routine, so it helps to hear fresh ideas sometimes.  Even if what you are thinking is so far ‘out of the box’ it is in the next room, I want to hear it.

Secondly, and this is more of a reach out in case there is someone this appeals to, I am looking to see if there is someone who wants to help out at the bookshop on a voluntary basis.  I am looking for someone trustworthy with a good level of experience (not school leavers) as they would be running the shop alone maybe one day a week for me to complete illustration commissions etc from home.  As mentioned before, we do not make enough money to cover wages, but working here you would certainly benefit from a good staff discount on your books.  It is a big ask, but if you are looking for some experience in this field, or have some hours to spare and love being surrounded by book then this could be something for you.  If this is something that would interest you then please get in touch, send me an email to hazel@nutshell-studios.co.uk

Anyway, I think this blog post is long enough, don’t you? 

Thank you for supporting and caring about your local Bookshop. I want The Book Nut to be here for you for as long as it can.

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  • Carla (Thursday, April 27 17 12:06 pm BST)

    I think we need to increase your presence on social media. It's how I've heard about and used other small businesses. Before you ask, I have no idea where to start - so not very helpful. But I think increasing people's awareness of you is the first thing. Could anyone help with this for you?A lot of people I speak to don't know you're there!
    Also, did you see the BBC report on the resurgence of paper books this year?
    Another thought, is there any way of partnering with local schools/ nurseries and getting the kids wanting to visit you more? My nursery gave out the recent book week vouchers- could you have increased your footfall if also in that bundle was a flyer for your bookstore?

  • The Book Nut (Thursday, April 27 17 09:42 pm BST)

    Thanks for your thoughts Carla, I really appreciate your thoughts and agree that our social media presence could be better. I am working on this but find it takes up a lot of time. The BBC report was certainly good to hear, it is just letting people know that our bookshops are still here.
    I do work with a couple of schools and have been/continue to try and gain links with others in the area, however so far there are not many who seem to want to work with a local bookshop, it seems. Hopefully this will change going forward and I will keep working on it - they have to say yes eventually right?
    Again, thanks for your thoughts, they really are appreciated and help me to focus my energies into what is needed.

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Pirate Shennanigans with Gareth P Jones - 11/06/2016

We are lucky in our shop to be visited by such brilliant Authors who love to create amazing unforgettable experiences for the children, and Gareth P Jones was no exception!

On Saturday 11th June we had planned to have our event with Gareth in a function room, but when he arrived it was so hot we decided, why not take it out on the Craft Village green?...and with Gareth on board, we did just that.

Gareth bought his back of tricks, literally a case full of props and most importantly, his ukele, and wow...what an entertainer.  There was certainly a festival atmosphere as families relaxed on the green and sat around on the picnic tables eating their lunch and enjoying themselves as Gareth spent a good hour playing his ukelele, singing songs and getting the children involved with telling the stories! It was a lot of fun :)  Here are some photos, if he comes back to The Book Nut one day it is definitely worth coming along to listen to him,

We still have signed copies of his books in stock for you to discover

Have you seen the Invisible cat? 04/06/2016

On Saturday 4th June we were lucky enough to be visited by the amazing Author Pip Jones as she released the latest installment of her adorable 'Squishy McFluff' books, 'Seaside Rescue'.  Unfortunately I did not get many pictures of this event as the shop filled with children and I was seperated from the camera, but it was wonderful to hear Pip read her story, start to finish, twice so that the late comers could hear the story as well!  It really was wonderful and made our new little shop very cosy. 

Squishy McFluff has proved very popular in our shop and Pip has signed copies of her books which are still availble to buy in our shop so pop in to collect yours.

Fun and Laughter with Kes Gray 23/04/2016

Wow, what a Saturday we had!

On the 23rd April we were visited by the wonderful and extremely popular Kes Gray.  Now I always knew that the kids who visit our Bookshop love his books, we often here how brilliant he has been on his school visits locally and children are eagerly looking for his Daisy books or chuckling at 'Oi Frog!', but to say that kids love his books is an understatement.

We were swamped with children, I can honestly say we have never had so many kids in our studio and it was such a lovely sight to see.  Kes read to them for an hour! what a star, and all the children were enchanted by his tails, even getting sneak peaks of 'Oi Dog' and the new Daisy books due out later this year. 

There was a lot of laughing and giggling, the kids asked some brilliant questions and got to get their copies of his books signed at the end.

Thank you Kes, and thanks to all our customers for squeezing into the Bookshop, making this an event to remember.   I know that 'Oi Dog' wlll be very popular when it comes out!

Discovering Tzu Kingdom with Karen Chilvers - 19/03/2016

If you know us, you know that we love our books but we also love our dogs.  Which is why we hosted a very special (and fluffy) storytime on Saturday 19th March.

At 2pm we welcomed local Author Karen Chilvers along with the Shih-Tzu's who helped inspire her new book 'Tzu Kingdom'.  Of course, Gizmo made sure she came in on her day off to take part...

Karen's new book shares the magical world where Shih-Tzu's go, through a magical door.  The stories tell the 'tails' of rescuing dogs from terrible situations and helping them recover among friends.  Our keen listeners enjoyed hearing about the details and magic of Tzu Kingdom and are looking forward to receiving their copies of this debut book.

Karen has co-authored this book with a writer in Edinburgh and they are publishing it through 'Britains Next Bestseller' who require Authors to secure a minimum number of pre-orders in order to receive a Publishing deal. 

We received the fantastic news that the Tzu team have now achieved this and are looking for the book to be published this Summer. 

You can pre-order your copy by clicking on the link below, and you will have your name printed in the first edition of the book!

Well done to Karen Chilvers and Gill Eastgate for achieving you goal!  Gizmo looks forward to a mention in your future books as the drummer the band :)

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The magic continues with our Harry Potter Celebrations...

It is February and we have once again come to the wonderful Harry Potter Book Nights! As with last year, Bloomsbury have organised for a joint celebration of Harry Potter throughout the country, where Bookshops, libraries, community centres and Schools are all encouraged to hold their own Harry Potter night on Thursday 4th February.

We had such a wonderful time with this last year and were aware that so many customers wanted to cme but could not get tickets when we held ours in 2015. 

So this year we took the decision to make this event as open as possible so they did not miss out.  You probably already know how small our shop is so we can only have a certain number in at any one time.  Because of this, we decided that we would hold the event over TWO nights, Thursday and Friday...AND we would also hold a Spell-binding Saturday for those who were unable to make it.

Of course, our book night tickets sold out within a few days of them being available, a testiment to the fantastic books.  We decorated the shop with snitches, potion bottles and flying envelopes among other things to set the mood and prepared for some truly magical evenings.

On Thursday 4th we had a full house of children along with a handful of willingly participating adults!  We had a couple of readings, a sorting ceremony, wand selection and spell casting, quiz questions throughout the night and finished with a fantastic Wizards Duel! There were a lot of smiling faces at the end of the evening.

On Friday 5th we again had a full house and started the evening with the same format.  However, half way through the evening we were introduced to a surprise visitor.  Megan from The Imperial Bird of Prey Academy, here at Barleylands, brought a fantastic little owl called The Duke to meet the children.  Everyone got to hold the proud little owl and he stole the show!

We rounded off our Harry Potter events on the Saturday when we had facepainting, colouring activities and storyreading throughout the day, and this was greatly enjoyed by a number of young witches and wizards wearing their finest wizarding robes.

Throughout the events we raised money for J K Rowlings charity Lumos, through kind donations and the facepainting.  The total raised was a brilliant £76.41! 

A huge thank you to all our customers for your support and donations during our events. I am sure you all had as much fun as we did!

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Double the fun - Illustrators Jo Byatt and Ada Grey kickstart 2016 at Nutshell

We decided to start 2016 with a bang with TWO illustrators visitng for our first event on Saturday 23rd January.

Local Illustrator Jo Byatt released 'Catch me if you Can' last year and has been selected by Book Trust to illustrate the recently released, 'Bedtime Bears Reading Adventure', a book given to children under the age of 5 by the library and they can collect stickers on each visit!  Jo returned to Nutshell, but this time with Popular illustrator Ada Grey, whose work on 'Poo in the Zoo' and the Royal Babies Series are fun and full of humour.

They arrived at 1pm, as did an excited crowd of little folk who eagerly delved into colouring activties with Jo, while Ada read aloud 'Poo in the Zoo'' and 'Shh! Don't Wake the Royal Baby' - complete with noises and voices.

At the end of the hour and a half, Ada had drawn us our very own Zookeeper, we had been filled with stories and two very weary illustrators had signed a large volume of their books. 

This was definitely a brilliant event to start the new year on, and we are so grateful for Jo and Ada, and all our customers for popping in and taking part!

If you missed out, we still have some signed books in our shop, and make sure you join our mailing list to keep upto date with the upcoming events in our shop.

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Hugs all around as Hugless Douglas comes to Nutshell

On12th December we were visited by the lovable, huggable bear, Hugless Douglas.  Not only did this cuddly bear cuddle everyone in our shop, but he had plenty of hugs left for a walk around Barleylands Craft Village where he gave non-stop hugs to everyone, young and old.

What a special bear he is.

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Football and Friendship with Dave Cousins

On Saturday 28th November we were joined by popular Author Dave Cousins. Dave's books Misfits have proven a hit with kids with his quirky illustrations. These alongside his award winnig books 'Waiting for Gonzo' and '15 days without a head' made him a very exciting Author for us to invite to Nutshell.

Admittedy, 28th November appeared to be a unusually quiet day here at the craft viilage, but when Dave arrived, we had a few families appear who had made the trip especially to see him, and they were not disappointed.

Dave is an amazing storyteller, he told us about his inspirations growing up, he shared embarrasing photos from his childhood and even showed us how he did some of the artwork in the Misfits books.  He gave an awesomely animated reading of his books which not only had the children giggling, but made one or two adults queasy....that is the sign of a brilliant story teller!

I did not stop laughing from the moment he arrived to the moment he left, and he even gave us a wonderful hot air balloon for our story tree, made by his amazing wife.

Thank you Dave for visiting our little Nutshell.  You certainly brought sunshine to a dull afternoon!

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Discovering the magic of The Dreamsnatcher with Abi Elphinstone

On Saturday 24th November we had debut author Abi Elphinstone visit our little Nutshell. Now we knew that Abi's book 'The Dreamsnatcher' was a fantastic book with 2 more on the way, and we were very excited that she wanted to visit our little Bookshop.  We also knew that when Abi did a talk, the kids went wild. She was known for her fantastic presentations and inspiring talks so we decided that this time we would hire out one of Barleylands function rooms to make a proper Nutshell event.

On the day, the function room was full and the wonderful Abi was as excited as we were.  She did not disappoint.  She talked about her childhood, how she had come up with the story and the amazing adventures she had been on to write the book.  Abi does not just read for research, she lives it! From a trip to mongolia to stay with the tribe of the youngest Eagle Huntress to cave diving and much more, you can see how this lady is so inspirational.

The best part? For a whole hour, the children in the audience were so interested and focused, asking brilliant questions and completely engrossed in what Abi was saying, no wonder she has such rave reviews.  They all went away with signed copies of her book and for the next couple of days I have been contacted by so many parents who told me how she has inspired their children to write and read.  Thank you Abi for bringing such a fantastic event to Nutshell.  We look forward to the next book!

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Books are our Bag with Maisy and Amanda Brandon - 10/10/2015

On Saturday 10th October 2015, Bookshops up and down the country celebrated with Books Are My Bag parties!  You may have seen the beautiful Orange and white Tote bags around as people support their love for Books and Bookshops.

In Nutshell we had a packed day planned so as we drank strong coffee from our 'BAMB' mugs we welcomed Maisy Mouse into our Bookshop.  Maisy patrolled the corridor, greating everyone, young and old.  While she got some wonderful hugs, she may have scared a couple of children too.

We were then joined by wonderful local Author, Amanda Brandon for a very special storytime session as she read from her books, 'A Scarf and a Half' and 'A Box of Socks'.  Two very special books about Granny Mutton who loves to knit.  Amanda even brought with her the longest scarf we have ever seen.  The kids loved discovering her stories and were invited over the corridor to the Craft Arena afterwards, to try their hand at knitting!

It sure was a busy day, but with some very special guests everyone went away with a smile on their face.

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Happy First Birthday Nutshell - Here is a review of our Bookshop's 1st Year!

Someone once said that time flies when you are having fun... well I have to say they are right!  As Nutshell Studios celebrates is 1st Birthday after opening in Barleylands 22nd August 2014, I cannot believe that the first year has been and gone so quickly!

So I thought that I would take a look back over our first year, at the highlights - and there have been a lot!  When we first opened the doors, I had no idea that a year later we would have held so many wonderful events as we celebrate the stories behind the books. 

We have had a Harry Potter Book Night, a Mad Hatter's Tea Party, Where Wally Hunt and Book Clubs, plus visits from Authors and Illustrators Colin Wyatt, Steve Antony, Jo Byatt, Ciara Flood and Yuval Zommer who have all been so wonderful and supportive of our little shop! 

So Thank you to all of our customers for making our first year such a brilliant one, and here's to many more to come.  I thought rather than write about the whole year, I would share with you my favourite photos and memories. Please enjoy!

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Yuval Zommer helps celebrate our First Birthday

For our First Birthday celebrations we were honoured to be joined by talented Author and Illustrator Yuval Zommer.  Yuval has written two books, 'That Big Blue Thing on the Hill' and his new book 'One Hundred Bones'.

Yuval was not only kind enough to hold a couple of storytimes, reading his books over again for the customers who came later, but he held competitions with the children to draw an animal. There were some fantastic pictures around the studio as children used every spare piece of space to draw their animals before the winners were announced and awarded one of Yuval's very special art pencils.

It was a great afternoon with a lot of laughs and a wonderful talent.

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Colin Wyatt enchants with his Illustrations

Earlier in the year, local artist and Illustrator Colin Wyatt was our very first Author to hold an event in our studio, and he was so popular we invited him back.  On Saturday 1st August Colin joined us as he read his series of books 'The Jet Set' and shared new stories he was working on as well as letting us have a look at large copies of his beautiful Illustration work.

Colin Wyatt was a Disney Artist and has worked on many different comics and magazines, before co-creating the popular classic 'Poddington Peas'.  His stories were enjoyed by the children he read to as their gently humour is as appealing as the beautiful characters he creates.  Each story has a lesson about endangered animals.

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Bunnies and Storytime with Ciara Flood

On Saturday 18th July we were joined by the lovely and wonderfully talented Ciara Flood, and Author and Illustrator who shared with us her first book 'Those Pesky Rabbits', which is published by Templar.

Being the bookshop we are, we added a trio of baby rabbits to her storytime with the help of Barleylands Farm, and our three fluffy tailed friends joined children as they listened to a wonderful story of the grumpy bear and friendship.

Ciara then showed the children how to draw her characters and together they coloured in a beautiful big picture of one of her rabbits.  Ciara was even kind enough to let the children play with some of the very special pens she uses during her illustrations.

We hope to invite Ciara back when her new book is released next year.  Certainly a star in our eyes.

 

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Steve Antony and Jo Byatt drop by for Independent Bookshop Week! 29/06/2015

It is has been a while since I typed the last blog, but having had such a wonderful week at Nutshell, I thought it was about time I wrote about it all again!

Since our Harry Potter Book Night, our little Bookshop has continued to grow, not only in the books that we stock and our links with the Publishers, but also in the events that we are hosting.  We have recently been awarded a Grant from American Author James Patterson, for which we are eternally grateful, to help set up a mobile bookshop to visit local schools and communities.  We have also won the Caboodle Bookshop of the Month and been rewarded with a stunning hamper of goodies!  It is fair to say that I am extremely proud of what Nutshell has achieved so far in the past 10 months.

 

We had a brilliant visit from local Author and Illustrator Colin Wyatt in March and this gave us a taste to do more. Thanks to the Booksellers Association, in April we spent some wonderful days at The London Book Fair which gave me an opportunity to speak to contacts at the publishers, see what new books are coming out and learn how to give our customers the best Bookshop experience we can offer, and so with renewed motivation and excitement we managed to get signed upto a whole bunch of events and Author visits this year, and the list is growing.

This last week from 20th June to 27th June was Independent Bookshop Week.  An opportunity to everyone to show their support for us Indie Bookshops up and down the country.  This was something very exciting we wanted to be a part of.

Firstly, we signed up with Walker Books to host a Find Wally Hunt.  This was an opportunity to not only bring a fun activity to the Bookshop with a much loved character for the Children, but more importantly is a way for us to support the other small businesses around Barleylands Craft Village by creating a hunt for Wally in a number in the studios.  This hunt is ongoing for nearly 4 more weeks and so far we have had a lot of 'Wally Watchers' through and the feedback was not only was it fun for the kids, but the parents are enjoying finding all the Craft people and shops that they did not know were there before.  Even quoting one parent who declared 'That was more fun than going round the farm' which made us laugh!  The hunt continues until we have a great bit party on 25th July!

But even with the excitement of the Hunt, we still wanted to add something more to IBW 2015, and so we tentatively approached Hodder Publishers with an invite to one of our favourite Authors and Illustrators - Steve Antony.  Steve has one an award for one of his books 'The Queens Hat' and has released such awesome books as 'Please Mr Panda', 'Betty Goes Bananas' and 'Betty Goes Bananas in her Pyjamas', with plenty more in the pipeline.

Imagine our surprise and excitement when Mr Antony accepted our invitation and came to visit our little Nutshell on Saturday 27th June!  What a star! 

We even sourced a Mr Panda costume to make the visit memorable, along with a whole bunch of doughnuts.

Steve was booked to come from 11am - 1pm, and from the moment he arrived we knew it would be a brilliant day for Nutshell.  He held a workshop with children to draw on doughnuts which we hung from our Story Tree, and showed them how to draw Mr Panda, he spent a lot of time talking to all our visitors young and old, about Illustration, Writing and books in general even showing us the original artwork used in 'Please Mr Panda' and providing a sneak peek on the new books which are due to be released in October and November this year.

It was truly an honour to sit with Mr Antony and share the love of storytelling.

Mr Panda made appearances (Thanks to the incredible work and stamina of Michelle - it was a HOT day) and Doughnuts were aplenty!

We had such a good time, Steve signed loads of books and a lot of our young customers enjoyed the opportunity to speak to Steve and share their Artwork that he stayed until nearly 4 o'clock!  What a Brilliant guy!

And to top the day off we also had a visit from Local Illustrator Jo Byatt to also show her support for our indie Bookshop :) 

So Thank you Steve and Jo!  You guys have really made our little Bookshop feel special.

And a big Thanks to all our customers so far who have visited us.  Whether you have visited us once or 20 times, you are the reason we run this Bookshop and work hard to create these fantastic events.

Keep sharing the stories and the love of books!

Hope to see you all here in Nutshell soon.

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hazel@nutshell-studios.co.uk

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