The desire to please customers can backfire. One woman told me she wanted 200 books – “to make into clocks”. Unlike those who shudder at the thought of destroying a book, I can’t ignore the practicalities of bookselling. In a slack market, space is at a premium. Things must move on, or they become stale. The books she wanted had to have an attractive cover design and be very cheap. Perhaps my decision was cuckoo, but I decided to go for it and filled five boxes with potential candidates. Weeks passed, hopeful sounding emails arrived, but it looks as if Orwell was spot-on about what happens when you set books aside. Even so, it would be premature to call time on the book trade just yet.