When the second lockdown was announced, the UK seemed to take a collective sigh, freshly deflated at confirmation that these strange times were not yet near an end. Perhaps, as the news sunk in, we even shed a tear, or raged a little, as we wondered, ‘How will it affect me? How will it affect my work – my loved ones – my holiday plans – my health – my future?’
One of my first thoughts (close on the heels of those listed above) was, ‘What about my new book? What will a ‘release’ look like in lockdown? How will I sign readers’ copies?’ And then I thought, ‘What about bookshops? How will they survive yet another closure?’ And soon after that, I started to imagine a world without independent booksellers, and then I really did shed a tear, and then I really did rage a little.
BUT shortly after that first reaction, I heard news of two initiatives related directly to the independent booksellers’ industry, and I want to tell you about them here and encourage you to get involved and help secure the future of our bookshops. THIS IS IMPORTANT … here’s the detail:
Firstly, an exciting new website has launched, called Bookshop.org. It started in the US in early 2020, with the aim of rivalling Amazon by supporting indie booksellers and streaming 30% of all sales to them. It has been a huge success, and now it has launched in the UK. You can shop on the site like any other mail order store or you can search for a local bookshop you’d specifically like to buy from. I just checked in and see that in its first few days it’s already made over £46,000 for independent booksellers.
The other enticing thing is that authors are encouraged to create a page on which to share book lists and recommendations, which I’ve found to be a fabulous way to discover new titles and writers (click on my ‘Fiction from Isabel Ashdown’ image to see what I mean). I will be buying ALL my books this way until the high street opens up again (and beyond), and I urge you to do the same. IT IS WONDERFUL!
The second brilliant initiative comes from author Holly Bourne who is trailblazing with #SignForOurBookshops – also in a bid to encourage readers to buy from the high street booksellers during lockdown, with the promise of a signed bookplate from their favourite author.
If you’re on twitter or instagram check out the #SignForOurBookshops hashtag to see which writers are involved – and get your orders in quick as many are limited!
I too will be signing a limited number of bookplates to send to bookshops and readers across the UK! If you’d like one, all you need to do is email me at IsabelAshdownBookplate@outlook.com giving your name and address + providing proof of purchase/pre-order for my new book 33 Women from any independent/high street bookshop or via Bookshop.org – and we’ll speed one out to you!
Finally, I’d like to send out a huge message of thanks to all you booksellers, readers, bloggers, reviewers and book champions – with your continued support physical books WILL survive and thrive on the high street!