September 20, 2019

Indie bookshops to boycott David Cameron’s memoir


Cameron: returning to the public eye. (Toms Norde, Valsts kanceleja [CC BY-SA 2.0])

This week sees the release of David Cameron’s memoir For the Record, the former UK Prime Minister’s account of his political life, including the events leading up to and directly following the EU referendum—which, as you may have heard, was quite controversial.

The book, published by William Collins in the UK, has been over three years in the making, and follows a long public silence from Cameron following his resignation in 2016. In that time, Theresa May has tried and failed to negotiate a deal with the EU, Boris Johnson has been elected by his Conservative peers as her replacement, and we all aged about a thousand million years.

Anyway, according to the Guardian, preorders of For the Record are proving slow, with several independent bookshops reporting they will not be stocking the book—among them Book-Ish in Crickhowell and Housmans Radical Booksellers in Kings Cross. The Guardian‘s article contains a particularly vivid quote from Jane Howe at the Broadway Bookshop in Hackney:

“We will probably get one or two people asking for it but I’m not going to make a big thing—we might get firebombed.”

Since the article’s publication last Friday, however, there are signs that the public interest has been somewhat piqued by Cameron’s version of events. An all-out publicity campaign, which started last weekend, can only have helped: it sees “Dave” appearing in primetime interview slots on both the BBC and ITV, and in a two-part serialisation in The TimesAs of today, For the Record sits at number five in the Amazon bestseller charts, just behind The Testaments and Mrs. Hinch: The Activity Journal. Cameron is also due to speak at the Cheltenham Literature Festival, and at a scheduled event in October at a yet-to-be-revealed London location.

Undeniably the EU referendum, and the ensuing debate around Brexit, has metastasised decades of division and unrest in UK society: a potent toothpaste whose two stripes are class enmity and corrosive nationalism. And though he probably had no idea what he was about to inflict on the country, Cameron was the one to squeeze the tube. Now there’s no going back—and it looks like the subject will dominate both the news landscape, and all our lives, for decades to come. It remains to be seen how effective Cameron’s attempts to manage his legacy will be.



Tom Clayton is publishing executive at Melville House UK.