I used to work in a bookshop and people would come
in and they’d say, ‘I’m looking
for a book’, and I’d say, ‘Fine’,
and because I was young and I thought I was funny
I’d say, ‘You’ve certainly come
to the right place!’
don’t know what the book’s called,’
I’d say, undaunted, my helpful fingers poised
over Whitaker’s big red Books In Print –
which is what we used to check bibliographical information
before we had computers.
the author?’, I’d say.
don’t know,’ they’d say.
‘Right,’ I’d say. ‘Any idea
what it was about at all?’
think it was fiction,’ they’d say.
‘OK,’ I’d say.
‘Or maybe it was non-fiction,’ they’d
say, and then they would invariably deliver a version
of a line that I shall never forget and which is
the most important lesson I think I ever learnt
in the bookselling business – apart from the
need to be tough with sales reps and polite to customers,
and not the other way round.
know it if you saw it,’ they would say. ‘It’s
about this big, and it has a blue cover.’
Oh, yeah, of course, that book! Step right this
way. You really want the cover to your book to suggest
something like ‘Bloody Hell! This Book Is
Amazing!’, or maybe, ‘Don’t Even
Think of Picking Up This Book Unless You’re
a Total Genius, Like Me, The Author!’ or ‘Far
Out!’, or ‘Whoa, Baby!’, or ‘Come
And Have a Go if You Think You’re Hard Enough!’
Something like that.
And yet most books seem to suggest, ‘Well,
Yeah, This Is OK, But Don’t Get Your Hopes
Up Too High. It’s a Bit Like That Book
Longitude, or Something by Elmore Leonard,
or Some Other Author Much More Famous and More Popular
Than I Am.’
But most of us just vaguely remember the colour.
Anyway. The covers are not a reliable guide to the
contents of the books, any more than your bad-breathed,
pock-marked, lank-haired overweight self is a guide
to the sweet, wonderful, extraordinary person you
|THE COUNTY GUIDES:
THE NORFOLK MYSTERY
Love Miss Marple? Adore Holmes and Watson? Professor Morley’s guide to Norfolk is a story of bygone England; quaint villages, eccentric locals – and murder!
It is 1937 and disillusioned Spanish Civil War veteran Stephen Sefton is stony broke. So when he sees a mysterious advertisement for a job where ‘intelligence is essential’, he applies.
Thus begins Sefton’s association with Professor Swanton Morley, an omnivorous intellect.
Morley’s latest project is a history of traditional England, with a guide to every county.
They start in Norfolk, but when the vicar of Blakeney is found hanging from his church’s bellrope, Morley and Sefton find themselves drawn into a rather more fiendish plot.
|PAPER: AN ELEGY
'First of all, respect your paper!'
J.M.W. Turner's advice to Mary Lloyd, recollected by her in 1880, quoted in Turner Studies, vol. no. 1 (1984).
What do reading a book, smoking a cigarette, throwing confetti and voting in an election have in common? The answer, of course, is paper. PAPER: AN ELEGY
builds a museum of paper and explores its paradox – its vulnerability and durability.
A timely meditation on the very paper it’s printed on.
The Paper Museum
is now open to vistors. It's also on Facebook
|THE TRUTH ABOUT BABIES
and beautiful book … Every new parent should
have a copy for their journey through that first
'Funny, brave, touching and true.' Julie Myerson.
‘It’s mellow, intelligent
and very funny, a perfect antidote for melancholy.’
‘Wonderfully vivid, easy, natural, funny and moving.’ Oliver Sacks.
Fashioned Food, Cooked the Traditional Way’
the Bap Express!! Cookbook.
THE MOBILE LIBRARY:
THE CASE OF THE MISSING BOOKS
‘Israel is one of the most original and
amusing amateur sleuths around.’
|THE MOBILE LIBRARY:
MR DIXON DISAPPEARS
second in what promises to be a must-read series.’
Get the Mobile Library Dos
and Donts and Timetable.
THE MOBILE LIBRARY:
THE DELGATES' CHOICE
'Sansom has struck a rich comic seam ... a very
THE MOBILE LIBRARY:
THE BAD BOOK AFFAIR
'Cripplingly funny' The Independent.
'I laughed more times than I can remember over a novel for years' The Observer.
'Wonderfully Comic' Daily Mail.
|THE ENTHUSIAST ALMANACK
compiled and brilliantly eccentric … hilarious
and .. intriguing.’
THE ENTHUSIAST FIELD GUIDE TO POETRY
'... helps open up the possibilities of poetry
and shows where the excitement is most intense
[…] a rare treat'.