Once a Bookseller, Always a Bookseller: Max Porter on seeing his book on the shelves

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For many years I was a bookseller. Once a bookseller, always a bookseller. Now I work as an editor, and I’ve written a book, but I still think like a bookseller and I hope I always will. The greatest thrill for me this year has been going into bookshops and seeing little handwritten notes, bookseller recommendations, on my book. It means more than a million reviews that someone whose job it is to put the right book in a reader’s hands has chosen to put my book into someone’s hands. The hand-sell is the greatest thing, and all the algorithms and strategies and campaigns in the world can’t rival the simple power of a bookseller recommending a book, face to face, in a bookshop.

I’ve tried not to be a pesky author going into bookshops to see if they have the book, but given how often I’m in bookshops looking at books, there have naturally been a few times I’ve plucked up the courage to say hello, and the result has been some lovely chat with booksellers. One time I blushingly asked a Waterstones bookseller if they wanted me to sign the copy on the shelf and they laughed and said “turn around” and there was a bloody great table of my book with handwritten signs and beautiful handmade posters. Those people were hand-selling the living shit out of my little book. I later took some biscuits to thank them and my children trashed their kids section and the baby did a properly toxic poo and stank out the travel section, so I guess it was a mixed blessing for them, that visit.

To read the full post on the Waterstones website, click here

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