The Choice 6

A half hour interview here as part of Michael Buerk’s very interesting Radio 4 series.

Meantime Murder in Samarkand appears almost totally off the shelves. I needed some copies at the weekend, and went to Waterstones in Malet St, Trafalgar Sq, Piccadilly Circus and Notting Hill Gate, to Daunts, Hatchards, Foyles, to Blackwells and Borders in Charing Cross Road and to Books Etc in Shepherds Bush. Between all of these I culled just four copies, with most shops having none. None have any copies today. also have the paperback no longer in stock but on 6 day delivery.

Yet there were plenty of copies everywhere of Tamerlaine’s Children by Robert Rand and Ghost Plane by Stephen Grey. These are very good books by friends of mine on broadly the same subject as mine, but have sold less than a quarter the number and are tens of thousands lower in the Amazon sales rankings.

I have continually been frustrated by this. Murder has sold remarkably well given its invisibility. But it really is hard to understand what is happening – and why.

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6 thoughts on “The Choice

  • Mike


    New to your site, after hearing your interview this morning on Radio 4. You are an inspiration to all the other mavericks asking awkward questions of our 'superiors'.

    Best wishes


  • stevie

    The truth will get out there Craig and your book is being read and not just bought to sit on a shelf. I've sold a few copies on ebay now (not for profit – just to promote your story).

    Anyone interested in another new copy of Craig's book can bid using the following link (bidding starts at 99p!):

    Craig, I'm sure you'd get a good price if you put some signed copies on ebay too…

  • Solidaritysupporter

    good broadcast Craig kept the interest going and at least Buerk sounds as if he had read the book, why dont your publishers do a reprint?

  • kazbel

    Some of this is to do with publishers' marketing practices, which advantage large, rich publishing houses. See

    The smaller the press the worse it will fare. Amazon is notorious for surcharging customers wh buy books from small presses while taking 60% of the cover price. See

    Some of it is just bad policy from bookshops. I was working for Foyle's the day Philip Larkin's last collection, High Windows, came out. Staff who knew anything about it knew that the Foyle's order. made by a manager who reckoned poetry didn't sell was absurdly low – somewhere between 2 and 10 (I can't recall the exact figure but I think all copies were taken by staff using their discount). Nearby bookshops had sold close to a hundred copies on the first day. Foyle's sold out and had to wait for further stock as the opportunity of stocking a bestseller went.

    There's a need for a good portal marketing books from small presses.

  • Chuck Unsworth

    Splendid interview. How stupid of the booksellers not to ride the wave. Do you actually have an agent?

  • Strategist

    Londoners, try the Kilburn Bookshop, Kilburn Bridge, opposite Kilburn High Road station – a fine establishment!

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