An independent bookshop that failed to sell a single book on a rainy day this week has been inundated with customers after publishing pictures of its empty aisles on social media.

The Petersfield Bookshop in Hampshire sent a melancholy tweet revealing that it had not welcomed one paying customer, probably for the first time in its 100-year history.

Within a few hours, the fantasy and science fiction author Neil Gaiman retweeted the post to his millions of followers and, as if by magic, orders came flooding in from across the globe.

The unlikely turnaround began when the bookshop – which specialises in antiquarian publications, maps and secondhand books – experienced a particularly miserable Tuesday. Robert Sansom, who has worked at the shop for 13 years, hammered out the gloomy tweet.

…Tumbleweed…

Not a single book sold today…

£0.00…

We think think this maybe the first time ever…

We know its miserable out but if you’d like to help us out please find our Abebooks offering below, all at 25% off at the moment…. pic.twitter.com/Cn5uhYWw88

“Tumbleweed,” the tweet read. “Not a single book sold today … £0.00”. Sansom thought little of it, but was amazed when £1,000 worth of orders came in overnight.

“It was really touching,” he said. “People have been so kind. This will really make a difference. There are slow days, but it was a really unusual day for us to have not sold any books – no one wanted to come out because of Storm Brendan.”

John Westwood, 56, whose family owns the store, said: “It blows me away. I don’t understand social media because I’m old-fashioned, but when Rob called me and told me the figures, I was gobsmacked.”

By Wednesday evening, the original post had been retweeted more than 6,000 times and received more than 11,000 likes.

The shop put out a further, more cheerful tweet: “What a night! We have been completely overwhelmed in a good way. We have 1,100 new followers. We have loads of online book orders. We have over 300 messages, many asking after books. We will answer all as soon as we can, please bear with us. Thank you all so much!”

What a night! We have been completely overwhelmed in a good way.

We have 1,100 new followers.

We have loads of online book orders.

We have over 300 messages, many asking after books. We will answer all as soon as we can, please bear with us

Thank you all so much!

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