John Sandoe’s bookshop last Sunday had sold out of its initial order of 10 copies of Are they funny, are they dead? and were awaiting more. It’s on Sandoe’s list of recommended titles for the spring: ‘These short stories range from poignant glimpses on the Home Front in WW2 to surprising vignettes of life in contemporary North London. A first book by an elderly author, this collection is unlikely to command much space in the Sunday papers, but it is a gem.’
(Note that this recommendation complies with BSI number whatever. Titles listed in the chainstores’ seasonal lists of recommended book don’t comply: they’re there because the publishers have paid for them to be there.)
At the London Book Fair, where the number of empty desks and stands made it feel like driving in London over Christmas, I meandered and loitered and bumped into people I used to work with ten years ago, twenty, more. (Though not Bookseller Crow, who was there on the same day: note the books his ticket is perched on.) So a good day; but apart from these encounters, and the opportunity it gives some publishers to show that my-stand-is-bigger-than-yours, I still don’t know what the fair is for.