This July, I’m coming back to the United Kingdom to embark on an epic quest. I will visit as many independent bookshops as I can in one month, to thank the kind folks that work in them for their wonderful work on behalf of authors. Starting in London, I’ll be trekking to Penzance, finishing up in St Andrews. I’ll be stopping by to say hello to the staff and sign any books they have on hand. Auto Europe rental cars have kindly offered to loan me a car for the duration: what lovely, lovely people!
Independent bookshops offer a lot more than just bricks and mortar: they are real places filled with real booklovers, who choose each book by hand and offer recommendations to their customers. Many of them offer next day delivery – just like the big A – host book clubs and author events, as well as getting even more creative with book salons and personalised gift packs. They are often at the heart of communities, offering places for people to meet and chat and form friendships.
I firmly believe that we as readers have the power to make sure that these bookshops remain a part of our towns and villages. Since 2005, almost 550 bookshops across the UK have closed their doors. It’s undeniable that they face competition from online retailers, who undercut them on price, which they are able to do as they make up their money on other goods. This growth of online retail and drop in physical booksales has made it difficult for many Indies to stay afloat. However, it’s not all doom and gloom: we’re reading more than ever, and although more people now own EBook readers (50% of those surveyed in the Internet and American Life survey), people still prefer reading print books.
It’s up to us, the people purchasing books, to make a conscious decision about where we buy them. There’s been a big uproar again this week as Amazon is exposed for paying less than 0.1% tax on goods sold in the UK. Perhaps if our favorite Indies had that option, they wouldn’t be going out of business so quickly. We can choose to shop local, and we can help these bookshops stay afloat.
That’s what my tour is all about: encouraging readers to buy their copy of my book (and any others!) from their local independent. I think authors can do more to encourage this, and you can read more about my reasons on indie bookshop Jaffe and Neale’s blog. When my novel was first published, I conducted my first London-only Indie Bookshop Crawl, visiting 26 bookshops in one day and receiving an overwhelming response from people on Twitter and Facebook who followed my journey.
I’m so excited about my journey this summer: I’m expecting a lot of driving, endless cups of tea and a real adventure! If you’re in any of the below areas and fancy popping by, I’d love to see you. If not, perhaps you could help spread the word about the tour on social media. Look forward to chatting with you – either virtually, or in person.
Want to shop local now? Here’s a list of all the independent bookshops in the UK so you can find your closest one. (View a map).
Are you a bookshop I’ve missed? Or media interested in covering the tour? Contact me at emmajchapman [at] live.co.uk.