To London, to the Warburg Institute, with a car boot full of academic books to give away.
Some, I confess, I shall miss. But I find that increasingly I prefer electronic versions of most academic books. And I really haven’t the space. Eight plastic bagfulls … wonder what I paid for those? But the last time I tried to sell such books, I got a pittance for each. I’d far rather one of us had the chance to use them.
The journey down by car was smoother than I thought. You drive to the bottom of the M11, which turns into the A406 North Circular. West along that, until you see a sign for the A503 and Walthamstowe. Onto the A503, and carry on, and on, following the signs for A503, until you reach Camden Town (which is signposted). Then you’re at the top of Bloomsbury, and half a mile from where you want to go.
Traffic was very light, and the unsynchronised traffic lights were a boon to a man with a map to consult! I managed to park in an NCP car park in Woburn Place for 6GBP for two hours.
The delivery went swimmingly. The Warburg was rather impressive. My colleague showed me the library, where all the books are on the shelves, including early editions, and you can browse. The Tertullian section was most impressive. They had a Junius 1597 edition there — the one with the collation of the lost and exotic Fulda text of the Apologeticum. That is a rare book. I approved entirely.
One strange thing at the Warburg: they employ a comedy porter as receptionist. He’s Chinese, and friendly enough, but he really doesn’t speak English. He’s memorised a few phrases, and uses these; and if you speak, he tries to work out which of the standard enquiries you are making. He had to ring for the person I wanted to speak to, and couldn’t pronounce the name. Nor could he spell out the name!
But the best bit was when I came back, just before leaving, and asked if there was a loo that I could use. He looked at the pigeonholes, and then said, clearly and perfectly:
I think he’s just gone out.
I then said “toilet”, and he said
Ah! THE Loo!
followed by some indistinct directions. Luckily for me there was a poster on the door in the direction in which he pointed!
Considering the number of foreign visitors that the institute must get, one wonders how they get on. But the chap was well-meaning and friendly, and that is much. I remember that, when I applied to Oxford long ago, at Christ Church College the porters were appalling people, who took delight in snubbing the quavering applicant. One was known as “Mad George”, I am told, which perhaps sends a certain message.
The journey back was not so nice. There was much more traffic, but I got held up in Essex when the local constabulary decided to close the main road into the county for many hours. I was rather glad to get home!
This evening I have ordered a correction to the leaflet for the Eusebius book — because I forgot the little matter of postage and packing, and because I decided to offer a discount for copies ordered at the conference in August.
I’m wondering whether to take copies with me to sell, and if so, how many. I have no idea whether people will have loose change in their pockets there, and if so, whether they will want to pass that in my direction.
I don’t have a lot of visibility of Amazon sales, since they send me statements in arrears and money later yet. But sales are now happening, which is very good news. I had a statement from Lightning Source yesterday indicating that, in the US, six hardbacks and one paperback were sold last month. That is pretty good considering that I have yet to market the book, and never expected to sell Hardbacks on Amazon, as being aimed at libraries (although the hardback is a rather impressive lump, I must confess!). The paperback sale was very swift, since I wasn’t sure that the paperback was actually available last month at all!
I also spent some time on the Chieftain Publishing website last night. Had to give up when I ran out of puff, so there is more to do.