Indie hunt for Christmas hits begins

<p>An Essex chef and a 90-year-old duchess are proving to be festive favourites alongside quirky books and local titles as Christmas shoppers start heading into independent bookshops.</p><p>Ian Nicholson, owner of Alison&rsquo;s of Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, singled out <em>I Could Go On . . . Unpublished Letters to the Daily Telegraph</em> by Iain Hollingshead (Aurum Press) as a good festive seller, as well as cookery tomes by Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson.</p><p>He said: &ldquo;We&rsquo;re beginning to see some movement as far as Christmas is concerned&mdash;I have a feeling some people are trying to spread their spending out instead of leaving it all until the last minute.&rdquo;</p><p>Sarah Rees, of Cover to Cover in Swansea, said <em>History of the World in 100 Objects</em> by Neil MacGregor (Allen Lane) is a strong seller. She said: &ldquo;It&rsquo;s the type of book that is great for indies. It is Radio Four, it&rsquo;s middle ground. It&rsquo;s perfect for us.&rdquo; Rees said Oliver had been a big seller, selling more copies on Mondays after the &ldquo;30-Minute Meals&rdquo; programmes are repeated on Sundays. </p><p>According to Nielsen Bookscan data, <em>Wait For Me</em> by Deborah Devonshire (John Murray) is a bestseller for indies and has spent nine weeks in the Indie Top 20 since 4th September. Christine Bridger, manager of Old Hall Bookshop in Brackley, said: &ldquo;The Duchess of Devonshire is selling unbelievably. We&rsquo;re not even making a big song and dance about it.&rdquo;</p><p>Elaine Silverwood, co-owner of Silverdell Books in Kirkham, Lancashire, said having signed copies makes a big difference to sales with autographed titles by Michael Caine and Michael Parkinson flying out. Silverwood also flagged up<em> A Simples Life: The Life and Times of Aleksandr Orlov</em> as a bestseller: &ldquo;It&rsquo;s daft, but I think [Ebury Press] has done some really good PR and we&rsquo;re benefiting from it.&rdquo;</p><p>As usual with independents in the run-up to Christmas, local books are continuing to sell well. Vivian Archer, owner of east London&rsquo;s Newham Bookshop, said local history titles are going &ldquo;phenomenally well&rdquo; and singled out <em>London Labour and the London Poo</em>r by Henry Mayhew (OUP).</p><p>Donald Grant, manager of Kay&rsquo;s Bookshop in Edinburgh, said trade was slow but a wide range of titles was selling. However, he was cautious about the festive period. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s not going to be the greatest of Christmases this year,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;People will be cautious. With the 20% VAT coming in January people will be thinking we need a new washing machine, so let&rsquo;s buy it before 30th December, so a fair amount of discretionary income will go, which will impact on many things.&rdquo;</p>