Saturday, 14 April 2012

ABIDE WITH ME: the Newham Bookshop signing

The Newham Bookshop signing was always going to be different.  And so it proved . . .

I arrived at half twelve, laden with my books, my box of bits, and my seven foot pull-up cover screen.  I'd done a little research on what the Newham Bookshop was like, and I'd found it described as the sort of bookshop for real book lovers.  Wall to wall books - piled everywhere, barely room to move.  In short, a dream of a bookshop.  If I ever get the chance, it's the sort of bookshop I would love to run one day.  Given half the chance, I'd work there for nothing.

Trouble is, in terms of doing a book signing, there wasn't room to swing a cat.  Cat-swinging being a hobby of mine, I was a tad put out, you know.

But the weather was glorious, and very quickly, John the amenable chap in charge for the day, very quickly had a table cleared out the front on the street, and I began setting up.

A far cry from the sedate calm of the previous two signings.  I was on the street, handing out leaflets, selling books off a table.  And it was brilliant.  The photographer from the Newham Recorder turned up and took a few photos - a real experience, that.  And by the time Darren the publisher turned up, I'd sold exactly . . . none.  Nothing.  Not a sausage.  

My first potential customer was a lovely old girl of about seventy who promptly sat down on the plastic chair provided for me by the shop whilst her husband went across the road for his pension.  After a lengthy conversation about the Hammers, in which the old lady railed against the poor home form, Fat Sam Allardyce the Hammers manager and Robert Green the Hammers goalkeeper - claiming 'you could have driven a sixty-nine bus under him for the second goal on Monday', she informed me after the game she was going to by some new knickers as her old ones were 'all tatty'.  'All right for indoors,' she said.  'But you can't go out in em.'

And, gradually, trade began to pick up.  We were set up at the other side of a set of traffic lights, meaning people waiting for the lights to change on the other side of the road had time enough to have a look from afar.  By the time they crossed and picked up a leaflet and a free bookmark, the interest was palpable.

Buy two o'clock, just an hour in, we'd sold half our stock.  By half past, we had to open our backup box of books.

And, to my delight, Rob Banks, author of the seminally brilliant West Ham book - An Irrational Hatred of Luton - turned up.  Rob had read ABIDE WITH ME a few weeks back and said he'd loved it, which was fantastic for me.  But to actually meet him was a real pleasure.  I told him I was a bit startstruck.  As he handed me his copy of ABIDE WITH ME to sign, he said he was a little starstruck too.   Fantastic :)

Then Phil Whelans of the not only the best West Ham podcast around but the best football podcast full stop - Stop! Hammertime - turned up.  Phil also read the book a couple of months back and had similarly complimentary words to say.  For the book to have the blessing, as it were, from die-hard Hammers such as Rob and Phil means the world.

And the books kept on moving.  By quarter to three, the streets were almost empty with kick off just minutes away.  But still people stopped to pick up a flyer, a bookmark, and buy a book.  One bloke, even though kick off time was just minutes away, ran to a nearby cashpoint to get some money out the hole in the wall to buy a book.  Another bloke bought two, and from nowhere there was almost a bit of a queue.  One fella stumbled across the road towards us, smashed off his face, so to speak, mumbled something about not reading, took a leaflet, and said he'd be back after a couple more pints.  I suspect he didn't make it much further than The Boleyn on the next corner.

By three o'clock, we'd sold half our back-up box of books, and with what the shop wanted me to sign for them to sell after the game and beyond, I went home with only a handful.

After we'd packed up, I had a quick celebratory pint in The Boleyn before walking back up Green Street to Upton Park Tube.

To top an unbelievable day, West Ham beat Brighton 6-0 and the Mighty Daggers more or less secured another season in the Football League with a one-all draw away to Aldershot.


So, ABIDE WITH ME is still the number one Sports Fiction book on Amazon UK in both Kindle and paperback versions, we've had a blinder of a day at the Newham Bookshop signing, the Hammers are still in the hunt for Premiership promotion, and the Mighty Daggers continue to be mighty.

Life, eh.  

Fantastic :)


  1. Excellent stuff mate, well deserved!

  2. Sounds like a totally successful day !

  3. Brilliant! I'm so happy for you.

  4. Blinder of a day. Ian you forgot Charlton also got promoted. A day to remember in many ways and I was so pleased to be there.

  5. Hand-selling books, Jesus Christ, you're a braver man than I. Cheers, Ian, much deserved success.

  6. Now ,that sounds like a signing session. Brilliant.
    Am in the middle of 'Abide With Me' now and loving it.
    PS I think you deserved more than one pint after that!

  7. Good Grief, Ian! I've been busy with school and took a moment to try and catch up on my backlog of reading and what do I find? You, a brilliant success! Way to go, Ian. This doesn't surprise me in the least, I knew you had this in you. Well done!

    Lorraine ;)