North London elects Obama as its favourite read

PUBLISHED: 10:37 12 January 2009 | UPDATED: 15:47 07 September 2010

The President Elect takes first and second place in the bestseller race at the Owl Bookshop in Kentish Town, writes Gary McLaren Returning to Kentish Town after the holiday break was a sobering experience – not literally I hasten to add. Like many indep

The President Elect takes first and second place in the bestseller race at the Owl Bookshop in Kentish Town, writes Gary McLaren

Returning to Kentish Town after the holiday break was a sobering experience - not literally I hasten to add.

Like many independent retailers, we view the current economic climate with apprehension.

Christmas trading rallied at the end and 2008 was not the disaster it could have been if the autumn slump had continued.

Now the New Year is here, it's cold outside - and it's all eyes on the tills.

If the media predictions of economic meltdown come true, this high street will be a very different place in 2010.

January is traditionally a clearing out time at the Owl.

Unlike other retailers, we are able to buy our stock on a daily basis and this allows us to keep our stock levels in tune with customer demand.

But some titles remain unsold and these get pulled off the shelves and display tables to make way for new titles.

The book supply chain is now so efficient with next day delivery on orders and automated returns the norm that the annual sale of unsold and non-returnable titles is no longer necessary.

We do still have some books which have slipped through the net and we will attempt to sell these off in a sale in February.

There were many successful titles in 2008 - some predictable and others less so.

Our bestseller by far was Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama, which beat the President Elect's other book, Audacity Of Hope, into second place.

In third place in December, we had Jokes For Kids Of All Ages by Martin Ellis, which just beat Tales Of Beedle The Bard by JK Rowling and The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid. I'm not sure what this says about the nation's psyche.

Publishing lead times run into years, not months, so it's not surprising that the January new titles seem oblivious to the change in the nation's fortunes.

There are some big titles this month - mainly last year's big hitting hardbacks coming into paperback and our four for the price of three tables are looking fuller than usual.

The Second Plain by Martin Amis, The Hidden by once Kentish Town local Tobias Hill, Netherland by Joseph O'Neill and The Girl Who Played With Fire by Steg Larsson are just a few of this month's recommended releases.


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