Friday, 7 October 2016

Want to buy a book?

This week’s TLS carries a review of Patrick Mackie’s The Further Adventures Of The Lives Of The Saints: “a welcome onslaught, a carnival of erudition paid out like tickertape …”. In the same issue, Will Eaves’s The Inevitable Gift Shop shares a review with Angela Leighton’s Spills (Carcanet), another prose-and-poetry book. “The Inevitable Gift Shop is a puzzling book, and meant to be so … it is a reminder that prose and poetry can happily coexist, and that publishers might reconsider their customary reluctance to let them do so.” The Eaves/Leighton review occupies a full page. There are photos of both authors, not a usual TLS thing.

The Inevitable Gift Shop is in stock with the distributor, Central Books. But there is currently no way a bookseller or wholesaler can get hold of copies, because when they go into the Central Books website from the buyer’s end it says the book is “Temporarily out of stock”. (Ditto for 27 other CBe titles which actually are in stock at Central. Kristof's The Notebook, for example; and May-Lan Tan's Things to Make and Break, shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award; and Dan O'Brien's War Reporter, Forward-shortlisted and winner of the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize: all these books are in stock and yet all these books, according to the current system, cannot be accessed by trade buyers.) Amazon list Will Eaves's book as “Not in stock; order now and we’ll deliver when available”. Foyles online and Waterstones online list it as available, bless them. Or – the whole flipping system comes down to this – you could order it online from the CBe website, free UK delivery, and I’ll put it in an envelope, handwrite an address label and post it tomorrow.

(This includes booksellers: email or call me (07984 798404), talk and agree discount, and I'll send the books. In London, where I live, I'll deliver by hand, next day. This week I hand-delivered to a reviewer in north London with a sharp deadline. CBe has run for 9 years, single-handed, in despite of how the publishing game works, without ACE funding, and it's the best job I’ve ever had. But I don't have much hair left.)

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