The second shop the rep and I visit is Foyle’s on Charing Cross Road. Foyle’s has gone the opposite way to Waterstone’s since the time I was a bookseller. Back then, there was an incredibly complicated system of books being categorised by publisher. So you’d have to consult a thick catalogue of titles to work out where exactly was the book you wanted to buy (either that, or go to the Waterstone’s next door).
Unlike our previous appointment, where one bookseller buys titles for the entire shop, at Foyle’s you have to find the relevant buyer for each section. It’s a lot of coming and going for a rep, but it means that when you do track the buyer down, they really know what they’re talking about. We head upstairs for the music section, to sell in Perfect From Now On, an American indie music memoir. At the last shop, our ‘like Chuck Klosterman’ pitch failed as the buyer didn’t know who Chuck Klosterman was. This time, I notice a huge pile of Chuck Klosterman on the table. We’re in here – the buyer gets what the book is about and takes a punt: thirty copies. Thirty! I struggle to keep the grin on my face in check.
From Foyle’s we move onto Hatchards. Another great dame of London publishing, and though now owned by Waterstone’s, still very much maintains its distinctive nature. The books displayed on the ground floor are all different again, a selection with as much character as the various booksellers we meet. I make mental notes of more titles I should be reading. We head upstairs to the health and parenting section, and we pitch my book Staying Sane, a humorous guide for young mothers. Again the buyer likes the package, and takes a gamble: ten copies. For a first book by an unknown author (on a new and untested list) this is brilliant. I come away from the day feeling buoyed.