Saturday, July 28, 2007

If you buy that, I'll sign it...

I spend a lot of time in bookshops.

I love them. I loiter, browsing and reading snippets and... OK, I admit it... I check out my own books on the shelves.

I've always wondered what I'd do if I actually saw someone pick up one of my books in a shop. That's not quite true. I've had a plan for many years, and this week I put it into action.

I went into a certain big-name bookshop in Sydney on my lunchbreak, to browse and check if my new book, SAFARI (rrp $32.95), was on the shelves yet. It was, and to my pleasant surprise a very friendly looking grey-haired lady was standing at the new release shelves with a copy in her hand!

My heart raced, Legion of Fans. She was rocking her head slightly from side to side, the book dangling unconvincingly. She clearly needed convincing. I drew a deep breath and moved in.

"If you buy that book, I'll sign it for you," I said to her.

She looked at me like I was a (well-read) serial killer, and took a pace back.

"It's OK, I wrote it," I added, holding my hands up to show I meant her no harm.

I was mindful at the time of a Wilbur Smith story I heard the great man recount a while ago. Spying someone at an airport who was reading a copy of his first novel, When the Lion Feeds, Smith approached and informed the lady in question that she was reading his book. "Sorry, I just found it sitting on the seat - you can have it back," she replied dismissively.

My lady in question relaxed a little, and I directed her to the inside cover, which clearly showed I was telling the truth (I had to explain I had more hair when that picture - posted here - was taken, but the resemblance was close enough). "Yes!" I thought to myself, mentally punching the air, and feeling not a little proud, Legion of Fans.

The two of us turned and started heading to the cash register. I was already reaching into my pocket for a pen when a young shop assistant walked up to my soon-to-be-royalty-contributor. "I've found these for you," the girl brightly said to the customer.

Oh dear. I realised what was going on. The elderly lady had clearly asked for some help in choosing a book, and the girl had returned with three possibilities in her hand. "This one's great," she said, holding up a copy of SHANTARAM, a book about an Australian ex bank-robber and gun runner who sets up a free clinic for people in Bombay.

"Oh, I think I'm fine," said my lady, sparing me the embarrassment of intervening.

"No," the shop assistant persisted, "this one (Shantaram) is much better than that (Safari)."

"But this man's the author, and he's going to sign it for me," said the customer, turning and gesturing to me, who was hovering with pen, gripped dagger-like in hand.

Poor shop assistant. Her eyes widened and jaw gaped. I started laughing.

"Um, perhaps you'd like to sign some more of your books for us...?" said the saleswoman.

Nice save.


bec said...

Nicely saved all round.

And in a bit of blogging weirdness, Shantaram is sitting thickly on my to-be-read bedside pile thanks to the lovely Shula of and her personal connection to the author...

Serendipity. Or some crap like that.

Muriel said...

Shantaram was one of our book club books a while ago and, with apologies to its author, I hated it so much that I finally threw it away. And I NEVER throw books away. The biggest load of self-indulgent wankiness I've ever tried to wade through. But then most people have loved it. So maybe it's just me.

ali g said...

The little trollope! Tell us where this uninformed bookshop is and we legions shall descend with our down with 'Shantaram' placards and give them a bit of a hurry up.
Safari read is going well! great book. read till 3am when the alcohol finally kicked in and turned the brain off.
Had another good read in the mens room this morning but a bit worried about DVT now as Wookie [ my choc point Himalayan cat] decided to climb into and curl up in my pants for a know what they say..."let sleeping cats lie" [or something like that] so anyway we both had a good time, him having a snooze in my pants and me having an extended read on the toot

Wookie said...

Have found my niche in life. Please send more books!

tonypark said...

Ali G - thanks for the comments, as usual, but I think we're drifting into the TMI realm.

Muriel, I'm pleased the word 'wankiness' is in use in RSA.

Always a good indictor, though... the more people like a book/movie, the less likely it is that I will. (with apoligies to Popalina et al).

Then again, my favourite book is still Biggles and the Black Raider, so what would I know?

bec said...


Synchronicity. Not serendipity.

Sorry. It's like a sickness. I can't bear to leave those things uncorrected.

meggie said...

I would be too terrified of what I might hear being said about it, should i ever get a book written! I am a coward to the core!

Muriel said...

I'd heard rumours that Johnny Depp had bought the film rights to Shantaram and now apparently it's started shooting with Johnny in the title role. I have loved Johnny unreservedly for as long as I can remember but I don't think my adoration is going to be able to withstand this blow.

Hann said...

Oh how cool, I would have loved to be a fly on the wall. You have every reason to be proud, and good on ya for doing that. It would be nice if more authors actually interact with the people who bought their books.
I walked passed a book shop the other day and had a quick look but couldn't see it, I'll go in next time and ask and I'll let you know!!
All the best for great sales!!

tonypark said...

Thanks Hann, but you've got me worried now.

You're the second Perth person who hasn't seen the book in the shops.

It might get to South Africa before it gets to Perth!

Hann said...

I will go in this week and have a look and let you know. Might be a delivery delay you think?