Friday, June 12, 2009

Will Self

On Wednesday we had our most high profile event since we opened. Will Self had agreed to come and read from and talk about his new book 'Liver'.
We are the Big Green Bookshop, but we ain't enormously big. We can fit about 50 people in there, but we figured that maybe more than 50 people would want to come along. So we approached Wood Green Library and asked if they could be the venue for the event. It made a lot of sense.
They said 'why, yes of course', like all good libraries should do, and away we went.

The capacity there was 100 (health and safety), and we decided to ticket the event, to make sure that people would definitely come along. The tickets were a fiver, but that was fully redeemable on the cost of the book on the night, so effectively, if you bought a book it was a free event!

We designed tickets in the shape of a Liver, and sales were brisk.>

If we had a colour printer they would have looked like this.

Then Bob Crow, leader of the RMT, heard about the event. Me and Bob have a history going back to our school days when he used to put chewing gum in my hair and tie my shoelaces together. We've never got on. Anyway, in order to try and disrupt the event, he called a 2 day tube strike.
Well despite a few panicked phonecalls ('is the event still going ahead?', 'how do I get to Wood Green by bus?'), that didn't put off too many people, and those who couldn't make it were soon replaced by the last minute rush for tickets.
Will himself was travelling up on his bike (a man after my own heart), and everything was set.
We get everything set up and as the first of the audience started to arrive, so did Will. He was charming and friendly and as we sat and chatted, he told me not to worry about anything. I wonder how he could tell I was nervous.
We talked about short story collections and why they didn't generally sell as well as full length novels, and also about stuff that Will's been doing recently. He was interested about the shop, and talked about his visits to Wood Green when he was younger.

Anyway the library was now at capacity and after my shrt introduction, Sir William of Self stepped forward.

After lambasting the photographers that were taking photos for the local newspapers, he talked about the book and read parts of 2 of the stories. Firstly a raucous, expletive riddled section from 'Foie Humaine', which centres around a 'Colony Club' style drinking club in London. Will read brilliantly and made the tragicomedy come to life.

The second reading was something completely different form 'Lerberknodel', about a woman who, confronted with terminal liver cancer, travels to Zurich for an assisted suicide. It was heart stoppingly powerful, and it clearly moved a number of people in the audience.

After this reading he was happy to answer the audience's questions, and then signed copies of the book.

Another Happy Member of the Audience

Team Photo. Isn't he tall?

Will finally got away at about 9.30pm and thanked us for organising it all so well.

So to sum up;
  • A very happy author
  • A packed, engaged audience
  • Loads of book sales
  • New Customers
  • A great new partnership with the Library
  • A bit of a 'buzz' in Wood Green
  • A happy Big Green Bookshop

An enormous thank you to Will for coming to do this event, and we hope this will encourage publishers to move us slightly higher up the list of bookshops when it comes to doing this kind of thing.

Oh, we have a few signed copies of Liver in the shop. Give us a ring and we'll put one aside.


Emily said...

Congrats on a great event! I saw Will do a reading in Dublin, and he was fantastic :) I frequently check your blog, keep up the fab work!

Mark Thornton said...

Wow. I am gobsmacked by the success of your event. Genius to partner with the local library, we may have to nick that idea off you...

I too saw Will a few years back at the Oxford Literary Festival, and he is utterly brilliant at reading his own work.