Tell us the origin story of your bookshop

Bill Fuller opened the shop in February, 1920, and it’s been chugging along ever since.

What's your favourite bookselling memory?

I’m delighted every time someone comes back to tell me that they loved a book I recommended, but if I had to pick a particular memory, it would be doing an event with Christopher de Hamel to celebrate what he called the ‘World Paperback Launch’ of Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts (my favourite book of recent years). Everything that could have gone wrong at the venue did go wrong (light, sound, seats, projector, lectern…), yet somehow it all came together and it was the best author talk I’ve ever witnessed.

What do you tell people (or wish you could tell people) who say bookselling is a dying industry?

Oh, people say all kinds of things. Online shopping is convenient but it is boring. Bookselling has been shaken up but it isn’t going anywhere.

What books make you happiest to see people buying?

Books I approve of. I’ve tried several ways of formulating that so it doesn’t make me sound overbearing, but it can’t be done. When someone comes in to buy a book I think is good, I am glad.

What are you reading right now?

Geoff Dyer’s Out of Sheer Rage. It is supposed to be a book about D H Lawrence, which it sort of is, but it’s also a book about how hard it is to write that book (about D H Lawrence), and it’s had me laughing aloud on the bus.

-- Recommendation Challenge --

Someone comes in looking for a present for their sister who works in a bookshop. She loves to read everything and anything but has a million books already. What would you recommend?

Elias Canetti’s Auto Da Fe. It’s old, but it’s been indent-only since time immemorial, so you can be pretty confident anyone under 40 hasn’t read it, and anyone over 40 probably hasn’t either. It is dark and savage and very funny. And it’s about a mad, misanthropic bibliophile, who boasts of possessing the best private library in the city. What’s not to love?