Sunday 10 July 2022

How many books in a caravan?

Roy Watkins’ Simple Annals is on the shortlist of three for the PEN Ackerley Prize, which is wonderful news. David Wheatley’s Stretto, published in June, is reviewed in the current issue of the Literary Review: Adorno and Walter Benjamin are invoked but happily the text is ‘leavened … with moments of properly Beckettian bathos.’

I’ve been on holiday (a proper one, with beaches and sunburn and platefuls of fish) and I need more space. Poor sales through the distributor during Covid lockdowns have helped to trigger a formula – relating sales of a given title over the past 3 years to the amount of copies in stock – according to which the distributor is (rightly) entitled to charge storage. Stock reduction at the distributor’s warehouse means the arrival of a van at my front door with boxes and boxes (I’ve lost count) of books. One way to solve the resulting space problem would be to build an aircraft hangar in my back garden. Or I could buy a caravan and ask a friend to let me park it in his driveway. Or – I’m trying to be realistic here – I could sell more books through the website. I commend to you, again, the Season Ticket button on the website home page: 10 books of your own choice over 10 weeks for £70, free postage. (That’s a saving of at least 25% on each title, I think; if you include Agota Kristof’s Trilogy, you’re saving 50% on the cover price of that book alone.

Two September titles – Caroline Clark, Own Sweet Time and me, 99 Interruptions – are up on the website for pre-order. They are short and small and £8.99 each may seem a bit steep but let me tell you (another time) about hikes in printing costs. If you include them in your Season Ticket choices, of course, you get them for £7 each. These books and Kristof’s The Illiterate are a new, white-cover look; I’ll write more about this later.

If there are any CBe readers who would like to come to a summer party in west London next Sunday, the 17th, email me.

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