I recently noticed that Alan Bennett’s Untold Stories is now selling in ‘all good bookshops’ at HALF-PRICE!
How on earth do writers ever earn a living......? Oh, sorry! I forgot, most of us DON'T!
Anyway, seeing Bennett's latest tome consigned to the Bargain Basement - after a mere eight months on the regular shelves - brought to mind an exchange witnessed in the bookshop of London’s Royal National Theatre last year, shortly after the book’s publication.
A tottering ziggurat of Mr Bennett’s chunky volume had been erected surmounted by an enticing notice reading, SIGNED COPIES.
An elderly theatre patron hovered by the table, clearly debating whether or not the necessary outlay of £20 for a SIGNED COPY was justified.
His wife joined him. “Well,” she asked, “are you going to buy it?”
“I don’t really know,” he replied hesitantly, opening one of the books at the title-page and closely scrutinising the autograph. Then, replacing the book on the stack he said, in a line that was almost worthy of an Alan Bennett character, “No... I don’t think so… it’s a very SMALL signature…”