RUMMAGING among the so-called book bargains (two for the price of three) at the Highway Robbery Shop off the M1 I came across that enigmatic phrase ‘Number One Bestseller.’
Number One Bestseller doubly – one might say, tautologically – emphasises that the book in my hand has sold more copies than any other.
This might be the moment to point out that a Number Two Bestseller is not a bestseller. it is a second-bestseller.
On the other hand, this might not be that moment.
In the M1 Mug The Motorist shop no fewer than a dozen books were jostling for the position of Number One Bestseller.
They couldn’t all be.
I think I know what happens.
The publishers don’t qualify their claim.
When I wrote Twenty Things You Didn’t Know About Spiders’ Legs in 1979 I had a suspicion that it would never be a bestseller, never mind a Number One Bestseller.
But the second edition carried those wonderful words – and I finally worked out why.
I’d bought six in the Lake District to give as Christmas presents to my aunts.
The publishers had picked up on this. What the second edition cover should have read was: “Number One Bestseller in Ye Olde Ambleside Curiosity Shop on November 14, 1980.’’
Just as a postscript, I must report that the roaringly popular Twenty Things You Didn’t Know About Spiders’ Legs is now out of print.
But you will no doubt be pleased to know that one or two copies of John Avison’s Brick Sizing For Beginners might still be found in better quality bookshops.