Thursday, August 03, 2006

Top Tens

Our top ten sellers at the minute are:

1: On Beauty by Zadie Smith
2: Secret Life of Trees by Colin Tudge
3: Journey by Moonlight by Antal Szerb
4: Pendragon Legend by Antal Szerb
5: The Owl and the Pussycat (Board book)
6: A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka
7: Time Will Darken It by William Maxwell
8: The Terracotta Dog by Andrea Camilleri
9: My Life by Anton Chekhov (Melville Press Edition)
10: Remainder by Tom McCarthy

Amazon have:

1: Artemis Fowl and the Lost Colony
2: Gordon Ramsay's Sunday Lunch
3: The Dangerous Book For Boys
4: The Island by Victoria Hislop
5: The Abortionist's Daughter
6: The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
7: The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
8: My Best Friend's Girl by Dorothy Koomson
9: Marley and Me by John Grogan
10: Positively Happy by Noel Edmonds

The "Official" Bookseller Top 10

1: The Island by Victoria Hislop
2: The Righteous Men by Sam Bourne
3: My Best Friend's Girl by Dorothy Koomson
4: On Beauty by Zadie Smith
5: Not That Kind of Girl by Catherine Alliott
6: Lifeguard by Patterson and Gross
7: If You Could See Me Now by Celia Ahern
8: Angel by Katie Price
9: I Know You Got Soul by Jeremy Clarkson
10: Making Your Mind Up by Jill Mansell

As you can see our bestsellers are a little different from most other shops.

Either we are an interesting little shop that caters to a group of people who think "outside the box" or we are doomed to miserable failure...


  1. I am upset that my order for the book about Monastic Spaces is not in the list. I shall have to order another copy. Interesting list. But does it mean you have sold NO copies of, for example, Victoria Hislop`s novel ? If so, the Richard and Judy factor does not reach SE1.
    I am now waiting to see how many people ask for the novel I have blogged today as being one of the best I have read for a very long time. I have told people theywon`t spend 6.99 on anything better. I`ll watch your space to see if my power and influence extend very far.

  2. Susan...This post was partly inspired by something you said about the bestseller lists of indy shops a while back. We have not sold a single copy of Victoria Hislop's novel...

    At first we tried to sell the Richard and Judy list but they didn't shift that fast. Worse than that they seemed to encourage the belief that everything we sold was overpriced. (If you see posters everywhere offering the books at half-price then come into our shop and see them on sale at the RRP what conclusions do you draw?)

    We now concentrate on books we rate - if they happen to be on the Richard and Judy list then that's fine but none of the R & J summer reading books are in stock!

    The books we sell that bring folk back are generally things they do not have shoved in their faces everywhere else. A good example is the Owl and the Pussycat Board book on our bestsellers. It goes like the clappers but though you will see it in good independents (such as Daunt) it will not be clearly visible at W's.

    Similarly Antal Szerb is, in my opinion, one of the most exciting literary re-discoveries of recent years. There are clearly those passing through SE1 who agree.

    The idea with highlighting Melville Press is that you won't see their books everywhere.

    Our business as a bookshop is about being different.

    We have to offer the kind of experience that Tesco et al can never offer.

    (Zadie Smith reading in the shop)

    As for Lying Awake I see it has a monastic theme...

  3. I agree with everything that Matthew says. Our bestsellers include the Mary Wesley biography, Umberto Eco and also "Pigs Might Fly" (the further adventures of the three little pigs). It's eclectic, and reflects the customers but also the books we choose to promote in the shop. Vive la difference.

    Regarding the Richard and Judy list (and having sold a couple of copies of The Island in the past couple of weeks) what people get for paying full price for an R&J selection is the chance to *talk over their purchase* with us.

    Yes, they can purchase any of the R&J list from WHSmith or Woolies (and lots of people do), but some people come into the shop, they want to buy something that they've read about, they aren't sure, but mostly they want to discuss it with someone who at least has a passion for books and makes them feel that their decision is validated.

    My own belief (and I may be kidding myself here) is that person goes away feeling ten times better about the book they've chosen, and gets more out of its reading. From Tesco, you get a hollow feeling that you've just bought more sh*t that you didn't need.

    (P.S. Love the piece in your newsletter about the cream covers and R&J stickers. Sadly Nic and I wouldn't have found this funny before July 1st, but now it's better than Armando Iannucci).

  4. We are almost certainly too hardcore in terms of what we stock...

    (Must order in that Da Vinci Code book again!)

    Mark - you are right. We could (and should) sell a few copies of the R & J books.

    Re your post about "Bookseller Paranoia" I am an expert. I had some good advice once from an old bookselling hand. He said it was best to stick to your idea of the shop and what you want to stock. You can't (it's impossible!) have every book that every person wants in the shop exactly when they want it. Make sure the shop is interesting. That way some people will love it. They are your core customer base. As for the others you just have to work hard to show them you can get what they want quickly and without fuss.

    And there will always be those blokes with backpacks for whom NOTHING is ever quite right!

  5. Agree with every word. There is also the fact that a Richard and Judy recommendation can put customers off.

    In the end I think hardcore is our only choice - keep the faith.

    Bit surprised not to see Mark Thomas on the list though.


    Not a word most people would associate with their friendly local bookseller I suspect...

    But it's brutal out there as anyone trying to do their own thing surely knows!

    The sun is out today, I have folk in the shop and a bloke just walked in and said "Ah! Turgenev!" Wonderful the bookselling life eh?

    Bollox - he left without buying anything. Life is so cruel!

    (Mental note: Get back on the tablets son)

  7. He came back!!!!

    And bought a copy of The Leopard by Lampedusa!


  8. What I want to see from you guys is your longlist of 15 titles that you think will be on this years Booker list... you have until Monday... tick tock...

    I have mine on my site....

    I trust Sarah Waters will be one of them on your list...? Remainder as well?