The Booker was famously derided by Julian Barnes as “posh bingo”. His beef (until he won it of course) was that the prize had become a lottery. The vagaries of the judging panel, the personality clashes, the cryptic comments made by the Chair, all these had made picking a logical winner all but impossible. Which is all very well for the pundits – after all a bit of mystery helps fuel speculation and interest which in turn helps sell newspapers. For the humble bookseller bingo presents more of a problem. Given that the sales of the winner multiply ten times plus when the announcement is made, it becomes impossible to get hold of copies the minute afterwards until the reprint comes through a week later. The big shops just order loads of each of the six shortlisted book; the small fry have to be very canny- and lucky. I usually gamble on a couple and cross my fingers. My bets this year? Washington Black by Esi Edugyan and Everything Under by Daisy Johnson.