This is the first in our new series of guest blogs by booksellers. These blogs are designed to show life behind the scenes of a crucial but neglected relationship – the one between writers and booksellers. Here Meryl Halls shares news of some exciting initiatives and invites writers to participate in the events such as ‘Strictly Come Bookselling’ during the fifth Independent Booksellers Week, which this year takes place between 30th June and 7th July.
I’ve always been a book-lover, and my earliest and most vivid childhood memories revolve around our annual trips from Scotland to visit family friends in Meldreth, near Cambridge. A trip to Heffers Children’s Bookshop was the highlight of every trip (for me, if not for my brother!). I can hardly put into words the excitement of walking through the door and smelling ‘that’ smell.
As a teenager and student, I worked in the local indie bookshop in my small Scottish home town, though it is now sadly long-closed. Whenever I am home visiting family, one of the biggest pleasures for me, my husband and my two teenage children is to visit the wonderful Main Street Trading Company in St Boswells. So, you could say I have the perfect job – and you’d not be far wrong!
At the BA, our umbrella brand for our indie activity is IndieBound, a marketing campaign begun in the USA, which focuses on the importance of shopping locally, shopping independently and creating a strong community. When we introduced the campaign into the UK, it immediately resonated with UK booksellers and it has provided both the BA and our members with opportunities to start a meaningful conversation with customers about how important their consumer behaviour is in keeping retail areas diverse, bookshops thriving and high streets healthy.
We will be back in touch with SAS members about the campaign, but in the meantime if you are interested in providing us with a quote in support of indie or high street bookselling, or – even better – if you are prepared to record a short spoken piece on the same subject, we would love to hear from you – email us here. The American BA has just launched a very similar initiative called ‘Why Indies Matter’, and you can see some of your fellow authors talking about indie bookshops on this link to the US IndieBound site.
The main reason, though, that I’m delighted to be writing this blog, is to bring SAS authors news about Independent Booksellers Week. The Week is in its fifth year, and is designed as a celebration of independent bookshops on the high street.
There are many opportunities for authors to get involved in IBW, which this year runs from 30th June to 7th July and which includes National Reading Group Day on 30th June – we have 310 bookshops signed up to take part this year, a record number, and many of them will be holding events in the bookshop during the Week. They are always looking for local authors to run events, or to participate in our ‘Strictly Come Bookselling’idea, where authors work behind the till for a couple of hours, and create a great bit of local press and PR! Or sometimes just a signing session, or to take part in a reading group discussion.
The 310 shops signed up are all over the UK and Ireland, and you can see a list of the participating shops by visiting our site. Many bookshops also run ‘authorless’ events, such a quizzes or reading groups, but most are looking to involve authors in their plans. If you are an author or illustrator and would like to get involved in IBW this year, check the website above for any UK bookshops near you and get in touch.
You could also use the BA’s author-bookseller service, AuthorBound UK, to connect to bookshops year-round – if you upload a profile, your details will be available to bookshops whenever they are searching for you, or for authors in your area. Visit the site to see more. If f you need help getting set up, then email firstname.lastname@example.org
We’d love to work with authors more and more often. In this fast-changing book world we all love, nothing stays the same for long, and the more collaboration and shared creativity we can foster, the better. For a good overview of what the BA is up to, and to get ideas for how you can get involved, here are a few sites to visit:
Hope to hear from you soon!
Head of Membership Services, Booksellers Association
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