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Book launch

January 13th, 2004 (11:36 pm)

I've just returned from a book launch party in London. The party was actually a month after the book itself turned up in the shops; what seems to have happened was, that on realising that the stock was piling up in warehouses, the publishers decided to bring it out ten days before Christmas in the hope of it being a stocking filler. Dictionaries of quotations always sell, goes the thinking, and popular history is fashionable at the moment, so why not a dictionary of historical quotations? I _think_ it's selling well.

Anyway, all went well. The venue was an eighteenth-century house, the one-time home of a famous writer of that period, in the City. I didn't get to see much of the house, although I've been there before as a tourist. I had contributed about ten pages of about a thousand in the book, and met a few other contributors; we were all thanked by name by the publishing director of the firm, which was a pleasing gesture and diplomatically sensible. I hadn't been to one of these things before and had no cards with contact details to hand out, as everybody else (at least of my generation) seemed to. There were a few Oxford people, none of whom I'd met; I ended up travelling back with one, and her partner, whom we intersected at Paddington as he returned from a business trip on the continent.

I also had a chat with a bibulous London academic who was explaining to me how nowadays he never pays for a book that he wants; he just gets someone to commission him to review a book and so he receives a free copy. I don't have the contacts to get away with that, nor am I sufficiently disciplined to churn out reviews. Maybe the next Burke's Peerage, though, when it finally turns up in the office...