Neil Powell’s obituary of Peter Scupham mentions his witty and learned book catalogues. Peter was the only bookseller I have encountered who actively discouraged me from buying something from their shelves or catalogue. The item in question was a seven-volume set of the “horrid novels” that inspired Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, very reasonably priced.
First he said: “You’re sure you want this, are you?” Then: “It is a fine set … I suppose they deserved rescuing from oblivion … I wonder, yes, I can see a good sentence or two … You ARE sure you want the set?” And so on, with a few sighs.
Secretly, perhaps, he had enjoyed reading these works.