Leamington Books is an Edinburgh publisher from writer Peter Burnett.

 

Mr Burnett’s joyous tales of his days as a publisher often cause me to fall into similar expressions of my own, for my job is Peter's "Leamington Books" publisher's assitant.

All things change in the procession of years, and it may be that I am the only person who looks at this webpage. It may be that the Internet reader of today is not the Internet reader of thirty-five years ago. Peter worries about this constantly, while I work on the more mindane matters of his business. To let you knw what I do, I work on his webserver and fire it up for him in the morning; I bring his wireless passwords from his notebook; I sweep out his office; I pick up his USB sticks from under his desk; and, I put the good HTML in the WYSIWG and the broken HTML on GitHub, or elsewhere; and I also dump the out of fashion CSS in the recycle-bin.

With regards the Leamington Books website, I parse the HTML on Saturdays and I upload it on Sundays — for this website is run in the fashion of a country weekly website. In Peter's book selling business I am equally active, and in the shop I wash the bookshelves, I tend the cables, I fold the paper money, and I carry all of the ready funds around at dawn Thursday mornings, and pay them into Santander, such is our bank account.

Every person who subscribes to any of Peter's websites receives tremendous value from these sites, because before he leaves for his real job each day, he gives orders as to how the websites are to be edited; and so he dictates his opinions and steers the whole operation.

We have one subscriber who pays cash and not a monthly subscription fee to look at this website and he is more trouble than all the rest. He bought us once a year, body and soul, for a simple £340 subscription fee. He used to modify Peter's politics every which way, and he made Peter change his religion four times in five years. If we ever try to reason with this one subscriber he threatens to stop viewing the website, and, of course, that would mean bankruptcy and destruction. That man still writes blog posts a column and a half long, and signs them “Norseman,” or “Vox Populi,” or some other high-sounding rot; and then, after it is posted, he sends an email message saying that the comment threads have changed his mind - which is a gilded figure of speech, because he hasn't had any mind to begin with. We can't afford a real editor in our office, so we always take the leads out, alter his signature, or credit the article to a rival website, usually the website in the next village.

Whenever there is a barbecue, or a circus, or a book launch, we do not work on any of the websites for whole weeks at a time, and then to make up for the time lost we turn over every page and fill them with pay per click adverts.

Once, in the early days of the Internet, we used to economise on the images we used in Leamington Books adverts. We picked out the images that had very poor metadata or that were short of other information and loaded them on a separate rack, where they were randomly ordered, and we changed the dates and localities, and in fact all the metadata, and used these images over and over again till the public interest in them was worn to the bone. We still uploaded the ads, but we seldom paid any attention to the clicks, because we forgot to check the Analytics, so sometimes the profits of a particular webpage were lost because we had no idea of it. I have seen an advert for 60% off at Host Gator and another ad for senior hook-ups still booming serenely along two years after the sale was over, and even after the senior hook-ups market was regulated. Even after hooking up with seniors was banned, we were still serving those adverts and making a profit that we didn't even know about!

I can still see those old websites, just like they were in those prehistoric times, with their SQL tables all infested with thousands of automated Russian user accounts. And I can see, also, the tramping and panting Peter, who flitted into the office and tarried all day, with his wallet stuffed with poetry pamphlets, or whatever unique and strange publication he was working upon.

Then, if Peter couldn’t get anybody to look at his websites, or read his books, he would do a quick alt-right lecture and get viewers that way. His way of life was simple, his needs not complex; all he wanted was plate and bed and money enough to get drunk with, and he was satisfied. His alt-right lectures weren't also as bad as some people made them out to be.

But it may be, as I have said, that I am among strangers, and sing the glories of a forgotten age to unfamiliar ears, so I will make even, and stop.

Text by "sarx"