Friday, December 02, 2005

The lovely lady in Prospero’s Books.

I got the tip-off from my publisher that there was going to be something in The Bookseller today about Macmillan New Writing. Naturally, I was interested to check it out, but trying to get a copy of the UK book trade’s weekly bible from local newsagents’ proved to be something of a fool’s errand.

I tried the local library. Their copy had gone walkabout. The kindly librarian went walkabout too, to track it down. He eventually found the copy. But it was last week’s. I pretended to read it, because he had gone to so much trouble. It would have been rude to have said, ‘I don’t want this. I want today’s. I’m not in last week’s. I’m in today’s. Geddit?’ So I didn’t.

Feeling a little like that geezer JR Hartley in the old Yellow Pages ads, I ambled hopelessly along to my last hope. The local bookshop in Crouch End, Prospero’s Books.

‘Excuse me, do you have Fly Fishing by J.R. – I’m sorry, I mean, do you stock the Bookseller, by any chance,’ I said. (Apart from the JR Hartley bit.)

The lady smiled apologetically. ‘Well, we don’t actually stock it, but I have got today’s copy downstairs. Would you like to have a look?’

‘Oh, yes please, I, errr…’ (Oh, go for it, to hell with English reticence.) ‘It’s just I have a book coming out next year and someone told me there was an article in The Bookseller about it.’

Off she hurried, locking the till, thankfully removing that temptation from me. It might have soured future relations if I’d pilfered some cash while she was away.

In the bat of an eye she was back with the respected book trade journal. I took it from her with shaking hands. ‘It’s probably not in, you never know…’

But there it was. In the news section. Right at the front. Three covers shown, mine included. And my name and title along with all the others in the text.

So the lovely lady in the bookshop looks at the article and gets me to point out which is my book. She then takes a note of the title and my name, as well as the release date. ‘Well done!’ she says. And before I can stop her she tears the page from her copy and gives it to me.

I think I'm in there. I'm talking about the book getting in the shop, of course.

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