A bookstore in England sold a children’s biography of William the Conqueror that had been sitting in its shop since 1991.
“I have just sold a book that we have had in stock since May 1991,” the Broadhursts Bookshop tweeted. “We always knew its day would come.”
The store’s tweet about the sale has since gone viral and received thousands of replies. Author Sarah Todd Taylor tweeted in response, “The book held its breath. It had hoped so often, only to have that hope crushed. Hands lifted it from the shelf, wrapped it warmly in paper. As the door closed on its past life, the book heard the soft cheers of its shelfmates.”
The bookshop opened in 1920 and is in the town of Southport in northwestern England. Its website says the store holds “a comprehensive range of books suitable for all ages, interests and pockets.”
Joanne Ball, the employee who sold the book, told NPR that it was bought by an “older gentleman who was buying several books on the Norman Conquest of Britain for his grandson.”
Readers have replied to the Broadhursts Bookstore’s tweet with their own stories of books unsold.
One wrote, “I worked at a bookshop that had a copy of Piers Morgan’s autobiography. I worked there 2 different times in 4 years, and we never sold it, even when it was reduced to 1p! It’s probably still there.”
“Can’t say we are hugely surprised …” Broadhursts Bookshop replied.
“Nor were we,” the reader replies. “It became shorthand for an impossible task: ‘You’re more likely to sell that Piers Morgan book than …’ ”
“I know it’s a little soon,” another reader tweets, “but how are you going to replace William the Conqueror on the shelf? … I was also hoping something random, but equally majestic in its own way.”
A bookseller in Warwickshire, England, tweeted, “We had a book called ‘The Larger Moths of Warwickshire’ in stock for 10 years. I was quite sad when someone bought it.”
“I try to think that they have gone on to a better place (although this is tricky, as a bookshop is a pretty perfect place already…),” Broadhursts Bookshop replied.
A Twitter user, Beckie, posted, “You know when people go to dog shelters and say I want to take home the dog who has been here longest. I’m going to do this in bookstores. ‘Can you point me to the book you’ve had here the longest?’ That will be some random book collection!”
“I will liberate these books!”
“I’ve seen a bookshop’s antiquarian section selling a *new* first edition of Darwin’s On The Origin Of Species. This millennium,” another person writes. “Apparently, it had been lurking in their stock room for a century and a half before they spotted it!”
Some Twitter users have been posting a classic advertisement, starring J.R. Hartley, an author, looking for a copy of one of his books in several stores in England.
“Years ago,” another Twitter user writes, “before they had an internet presence, I called Smithsonian Folkways to order their Frogs of North America field recordings. The woman I spoke with said, ‘I knew someone would order it someday!’ ”
“Would never have guessed for even a moment that this Tweet would go viral – thank you all for your likes, retweets, comments & follows,” Broadhursts writes, “We are incredibly overwhelmed, and so happy at how many book-lovers there are out there.”
Joanne Ball, the bookseller, tells NPR, “I don’t know what it is about the story that has touched so many people, but I am very glad it has done!”