A bookshop owner left wondering how he would pay the bills this month has been overwhelmed with orders, after a single tweet unleashed an outpouring of support.
John Westwood runs The Petersfield Bookshop in Hampshire, specialising in antique and second-hand books.
But a disturbingly quiet January saw barely any customers come through the door, prompting one of John’s staff to turn to Twitter to tout for business.
The appeal was spotted by fantasy author Neil Gaiman, who shared it with his 2.8m followers – prompting an avalanche of orders from book-lovers all over the world.
“It has been absolutely overwhelming,” John told HuffPost UK.
“I don’t really do social media, I don’t know how it all works, so one of my staff sent out the tweet. We got one order for £15 at first, which we thought was a decent response to one tweet.
“Then they started to roll in. We had someone call from Inverness, telling us they wanted to spend £10 on any book – they didn’t care what, they just wanted to support us.
“Then we had a guy come in who told us he lived locally but had never visited before. His friend in San Francisco saw the tweet and told him he had to go in and buy something.”
John, who has worked in the shop since he left school, said he had been worrying about how he would make ends meet this month.
But he has since brought in extra staff to help work their way through the deluge of requests, which were still being totted up on Thursday morning.
“My dad bought the shop in 1958,” the 56-year-old – who is well-known locally as a colourful Portsmouth FC supporter – added.
“Now we’ve had to get volunteer staff in to help us work through the backlog of hundreds and hundreds of orders.
“It’s truly amazing. I think it really shows the passion people still feel for books. The feel of them, the smell of them. That can never be replaced by anything else.”