City Books, Hove - Nothing is too much effort for the staff here, who champion their favourite authors and coddle all their customers with unswerving dedication
We launched my latest novel, Dead Man's Grip, in a warehouse on a wharf at Sussex's Shoreham Harbour. City Books' owners, Paul and Inge Sweetman, and their delightful team yet again got into the spirit of the event, manning their bookstall dressed in yellow high-visibility jackets and hard hats. They say that to succeed in bookselling today you have to be hard-nosed; perhaps you need a hard head too.
The first thing you notice – or rather almost fail to notice – about City Books is its exterior. It sits modestly, quietly but proudly, on a busy shopping road. Every time I pass by, it looks to me like a newly discovered secret. Step inside and it smells absolutely right, the way a good bookshop should. It is crowded with books, but lacks any snobbishness. Everything is here, from popular fiction to esoteric works. If they don't have what you want, nothing will ever be too much trouble for staff to order.
But City Books is more than just a shop confined by walls. It constantly travels to venues around Brighton and Sussex. I don't know any bookselling team who are more active in organising author events and ensuring a really good turn-out. Anywhere that I do a talk in the county, I can count on them to turn up with big piles of my books – and big smiles.
Peter James's novel Dead Man's Grip is published by Pan Macmillan