And then there are the speeches. Which are often too long and too smarmy and only occasionally amusing, though there was the man from Harper Collins who at the Tolkien centenary went on so long and thanked so many minions that someone - oh, all right it was me - said in a stage whisper that sooner or later he would need to thank the little people...Maybe you had to be there, with a lot of cardboard hobbits in the room...
Tonight, however, the woman who runs Fourth Estate hit a new low.
She was explaining the talents of her editorial director and praised him for going into a Harper Collins sales meeting and bursting into tears while he told the reps about Lorna Sage's 'Bad Blood' and how Lorna was in hospital, mortally ill with emphysema. And, she went on, he must have done something right because he enthused the reps into shifting half a million copies.
She said this, with Lorna's daughter in the room, and a number of us who were Lorna's close friends, and clearly was so far from realizing how inappropriate the anecdote was that no one felt like explaining it to her. And a lot of people clearly just thought it a useful anecdote about how to shift product, rather than someone displaying a genuine human emotion about a dying friend and author.
I am quietly fuming. Thank god I never talked her into giving me a job.