Friday, 2 September 2011

Waterstones | Three for Twos | Pack Men by Alan Bisset

Follow, follow Rangers

Waterstones are having a management revamp following their purchase by, someone or other. It's just been leaked that they are dropping their three for two offer - cue thousands of people rushing to their local branch in order to stock up on 'freebies' before the offer is withdrawn altogether. I'm not rushing myself, you understand. Three for two is catchy but it's bloody annoying. The free one is always the cheapest. And how often have you stood scratching your head wondering what third book would be worth picking up, just so you can take advantage? Discounts on individual books would suit me better and might help them take on the online giant.

I was in Waterstones on Sauchiehall St, Glasgow last night. So were about a hundred other people to watch a local author, Alan Bissett, launch his new novel Pack Men.

Alan was nervous. The book is about Rangers fans who get mixed up in the drunken riot that took place in Manchester the day their team played in the UEFA cup final there in 2008. (That bit at least isn't fiction: Scottish teams did used to do quite well in Europe as recently as 2008...) Alan is apparently a little concerned how the Rangers fans will take to the book. Surely they will see it as criticism. I imagine some of them will. But Bissett feels that sectarianism and football are under-written-about topics in Scottish literature and he has decided to rise to the challenge. Good luck to him. The extracts he read out had some wit.

I was slightly amused - make that bemused - when I arrived for the reading, which was to take place in the Waterstones basement. The staff had erected a barrier across the stairs with a sign saying the basement was closed for the evening, and it came with the usual apologies. There was no mention that I could see of a reading event at all: an utterly strange and perplexing state of affairs. Myself and a small huddle of people stood by the sign for a few moments before deciding to totally ignore it, stepped to one side of the barrier and headed to the basement. No staff challenged us as we did this or tried to explain what was happening which struck me as a bit sloppy. Bissett sold quite a few books though, despite this... so well done him.

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