June 26, 2013
Melville House at the Charing Cross Road Festival
by Zeljka Marosevic
Last weekend, Melville House UK was one of three independent publishers invited to showcase its books at the Foyles indie publishers bazaar, as part of the Charing Cross Road Festival. This was the second year the festival has taken place, the idea being to promote the road which has been overtaken by the Crossrail building works at Tottenham Court Road tube station. Foyles has seen a considerable decrease in footfall since Crossrail works began so for two days in summer, the flagship bookstore pulls out all the stops and teams up with local businesses and Blackwells bookshop across the road to remind customers that behind the cranes and promotional signage, one of Britain’s best bookshops is still open for business.
Melville House UK pitched up in Foyles’ entrance, and displayed a vast range of our books, from colourful novellas to a stack of Mukoma Wa Ngugi’s African crime fiction to a tower of Curtis White’s The Science Delusion. Booksellers take note, there’s something about the yellow cover of Machado de Assis’s The Alienist which attracts readers like moths to a flame. Customers had a chance to be properly introduced to Melville House UK, to receive personal book recommendations and gift ideas (no birthday is complete without a copy of A Short History of Nuclear Folly) and were invited to take part in our fiendishly difficult Art of the Novella quiz to win a tote bag filled with books. Everyone went away with an I WOULD PREFER NOT TO bookmark, with many readers commenting that the statement reminded them of something their mother-in-law would say. Customers swooned over the I WOULD PREFER NOT TO coffee mug, which should be on sale soon. My highlight was pressing copies of the Lars Iyer trilogy into readers’ hands. ‘You say you like contemporary British fiction? You ain’t seen nothing yet.’
And Other Stories and Peirene Press also featured in the indie bazaar, creating an indie love-in that readers found was contagious. At one point during a chat with a customer, And Other Stories, began reciting the short story (wrongly) attributed to Hemingway: ‘For Sale: babies shoes, never worn.’ Halfway through, Melville House joined in with the recital. Indie publishing was never so melodic.
If you missed this year’s festival, fear not. All of our books are available on the shelves at Foyles, and our Neversink titles even have their own display. And we left a whole pile of bookmarks with the booksellers, so if you’re quick, you can pick up one of those too. Below are a few snaps taken on the day.
The weekend never looked so good
The whale tale marks the spot
We lured them in with colour
Indie publishers winning hearts and minds
Zeljka Marosevic is the former managing director of Melville House UK.