The Anatomy of a Book Table -- Sarah Nicholson

Last month I told you about choosing a cover for my memoir.

This month I want to tell you about my book launch, or more specifically how to set out a display table for an event.

In my past I have created displays for a charity shop window so I like to think I have a good grasp on how to make something look appealing especially when pulling together an eclectic mix of ephemera.

This skill certainly came in handy when I had to make a display with NO BOOKS!

I didn't even have enough Os to write OOPS!

Yes, I held a bookless book launch. Maybe not the first ever but this is how to pull it off with aplomb.

I must just say it was my own fault for not ordering the books on time but my memoir is about grief and loss following the unexpected death of my husband. It is about making the best of things when something goes wrong, searching for the lost glitter that sparkles.

“It’s quite ironic really.” Said my youngest son, with a wisdom beyond his years.

I started my display with some sparkle – a gold glittery tablecloth, well at least a piece of gold fabric from the local haberdashers. I’ll hem the edges I thought, but of course I didn’t. Too much of a faff and the selvedge edges had a nice tinselly look about them.

You can't go wrong with a bit of sparkle

I created some commemorative book marks, garnished with sparkly wool from the same haberdashery shop. Each one was hand threaded while I watched Grey’s Anatomy – that’s probably where the inspiration for today’s title came from.

I went to the book launch with NO BOOKS
and all I got was this bookmark!

I added some objects I had written about, the first photo of Andrew and I with our firstborn. Andrew is wearing a sweatshirt which I recycled after his death into a bag.

"You are murdering dad's sweatshirt!" cried youngest son

There is a record from Andrew’s extensive vinyl collection from when he used to be a DJ. Number 777 is Don’t Leave Me This Way by the Communards, a favourite song of mine to dance to while at university. I also found the invite we had made for Andrew’s fiftieth birthday party, although he never made it to 50 we used it as an excuse to celebrate his life and surviving a year without him.

I remember the party we had for his 45th birthday - a bring a 45 party

There is a stone with the word SOULMATE engraved on it which I bought him on a trip to Chicago with the boys. He didn’t want to travel, he found it too difficult. I missed him every day we were away.

An original drawing by my talented niece @oliviarose_design which is on the back cover. Andrew and I are on Redcar beach, maybe not the most romantic of seaside resorts, but we are looking out to sea in perfect step with each other.

And finally, an elephant, maybe one of Andrew’s favourite animals, I think he had a dream about one once and he rarely remembered his dreams so there is some significance as well as being the elephant in the room that I had NO BOOKS except my "not for sale" proof copy.

No one minded there being no books, it was a great talking point and I took pre-orders instead, most have now been delivered.

“I love your audacity,” commented one friend, “what’s next selling fridges to the Antarctic?”

Actually, I’m not sure what is next, I waiting for those nebulous ideas in my brain to align. But one thing is for sure, Having one book launch without books is forgivable, I’m not sure I will get away with it next time!

I forgot to mention the purple Quality Streets, Andrew's favourite which we gave away as everyone left the church after the funeral.


Having nothing physically there to sell must have made it a bit more restful, in a way. You could spend the time chatting instead. The table looks good anyway - I like the gold cloth.
Love the table display - so much more welcoming than an author sitting behind a pile of unsold books!

If you're feeling really mercenary next time, you could have a sign that says: "SOLD OUT!" and give everyone who stops to chat a bookmark with the link to buy online :-)

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