Looked at a book.

On my way to the office out back. Thought, we've had that a while, I'm surprised we haven't sold it. It won a prize. It is highly thought of.

Fussed around in the office for thirty seconds, came back out into the shop. A lady appeared in the middle of our otherwise empty shop. Asked for the book. I found it for her.

It won a prize, I said.

It is highly thought of.

Yes, she said.

I sold her the book.

Sometimes the magic works like this.

Stoner Free.


I am reliably informed by our friends at Vintage towers that today, 23rd April 2015 marks the 50th anniversary since the first publication of the marvelous Stoner, by John Williams. To celebrate this auspicious occasion they have given us six copies to give away absolutely free of charge to any poor, but lucky soul who may not yet have read it.

If Stoner is still the greatest novel you have never read  don't be shy, answer this one simple question in the comments below, or by tweeting @booksellercrow, and a copy could be yours.



A man with a European accent asks me if we have an agenda.

He says, excuse me, but do you have an agenda?

Certainly, I say, we do.

I, for instance, I say, I have an ambition to sell as many books as possible, thereby making the world a slightly more magical place. I would like also for Mayor Boris and his slippery cohort Coe to stuff their plans for Crystal Palace park high up where the sun don't shine, and also, I like to think, that by owning two season tickets to Selhurst Park I might in some small way be contributing to CPFC's further abiding in the Premier League.

The man looks at me.

I think, he says, that in this country it is also called a diary?

From the end of a till conversation.

Anyway, I don't think I want you to order it for me, she says. I know the author, I've played bridge against her many times and she gave me an invite to her last book launch, but I had tickets for centre court at Wimbledon. But I read it anyway, and then, in my usual way I told her what I thought, which was that it thought it was pornographic, which it was, and which she denied. Anyway, that caused a bit of a cooling in our relations, but there you are.

Picks up a calendar she is purchasing, the Japanese paint such beautiful cats, don't you think?

Here's a thing.

It's been a while I know, since an actual blog post.

Anyway, before the weekend, here's a tip for any self-published authors out there.

If you approach the counter dressed as a pirate waving copies of your limited oeuvre in your sweaty maw, and address Justine (@swimble) thusly, IS THE BOSS IN?

The shrift that you will get




A man asks me for laminating sheets.

Laminating sheets, he says.

I'm sorry, I say, but we don't sell laminating sheets.

Plastic film? he says.

We don't sell plastic film, I say.

We sell books, I tell him.

Books, he repeats.

He looks at me suspiciously and backs away from the counter, and then turns his attention to the shelves, slowly walking the corners of the shop, peering into every bay, considering each shelf in turn, before shaking his head and walking quickly out.