Thursday, November 01, 2007

You heard it here first

You did indeed: remember this?

BREAKING NEWS!!! This just in.
The Book – you remember the book? – will release on November 1, and launch in Cannes on November 17, followed by other events along the coast: in Antibes, Valbonne, Nice, Monaco and maybe Fayence, in the following week or so. Details later.

Well, it wasn’t true. I know I told you that today was the expected release date, but I just heard that my books are sitting on a wharf somewhere, and are not, as we speak, leaving the warehouse by the truckload on their way to eager readers throughout the English-speaking world.
So please do not queue outside Wally Storer’s bookshop in Cannes on November 16 in anticipation of his doors being thrown open at midnight, because unless someone extracts their digit very soon, the book won’t be there.
It’s difficult, once someone has broken a promise, to place any credibility on what they say next, but, as you might expect, it was: “But we can guarantee that they will definitely be there by the xth”. So I won’t say anything until I’ve seen them myself - except that I hope you’ll be patient and not accept substitutes. It does exist, (I have an advance copy), and it will be at any good bookshop near you – soon.

Nothing to lose but your chains Yes, Marx – Karl, not Groucho – was right – there’s a world to win. But not the way the book market’s going. I went to town the other day to do a bit of book-plugging in the two remaining bookshops – and found there was only one! A year or so ago, Windsor used to have four good bookshops – WH Smith’s, one small chain shop – small chain, not small shop - and two independents. Now, WHS has pulled out of the serious book market, and there remains only the mighty Waterstone’s. They took over the small chain and the others gave up and left. It’s not all big W’s fault: not only were the independents squeezed by Amazon, but then the supermarkets moved in on the best-seller end of the market, which was what paid the independents’ rent and enabled them to stock the less fashionable titles. You might be saying, “How hypocritical – he didn’t complain when the same thing happened to the town’s small family bakers, butchers, pet food shops etc. - 'good for the consumer', he said”.
Yes, true, but we weren’t talking about books then – this is about Choice. Fight book globalization, support your local independent – all you have to do is find one.

Franglais Over lunch with a French friend yesterday, she asked what, in English, you would say to someone who was holding you up, to show them that you were getting impatient. We told her: she wrote it down and asked us to check it, then decided she should try it out. A former teacher, she is fairly unreserved, and soon the whole restaurant could hear her stentorian voice saying, repeatedly: “What ze fuck do you seenk you are doing?”

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