Tuesday 8 December 2009

Christmas Blog Challenge: Love Reading? Love INDIE Bookstores!

The bad news about Borders calling in the receivers has cast a shadow over the bookselling world.

It's Christmas time and I'll bet the temptation to buy all your presents from Amazon is huge.

Well here's the thing: the culture of READING is under threat.

Libraries are closing. Amazon has become all powerful. And with only a few big players left in the bookselling market - Waterstones and the supermarkets - our reading culture which is enriched by diversity and choice is under threat.

Liz Hoggard in an Independent article called on readers to support local independents this Christmas.

In the New Year, the UK Booksellers Association will be launching an Indiebound campaign based on a successful Indiebound campaign in the United States.

I think we authors and illustrators can also help raise awareness for Indie booksellers.

So here's a blog challenge for Christmas:

I have created a website called Bookshop Love on which I hope to feature independent bookstores up and down the country.

My challenge to you is to write short features about your local indie bookseller.

Post it on your blog or website and I will cross-post it on the blog! Send me your links on mumatwork AT blueyonder.co.uk (don't forget to change the AT to @!

It's not difficult - here's how to do it if you don't feel like marching up there and demanding an interview

  • Google your chosen bookstore and get hold of their email address.
  • Email them with the following message: I am participating in a blog challenge designed to support local independent bookstores and I have chosen you as the bookshop I would like to feature on my blog. I would be very grateful if you would reply to these questions and perhaps send me some photographs of your shop.
  • You can ask what you want - but do cover the following bases:
    1. Please give me a brief bio of your shop
    2. Tell us about your clientele
    3.Can you recommend five children's titles (we're children's book people after all)
And don't forget to ask for pictures! Of the shop or of a window display!
  • Post it on your blog or website.
  • THEN send me a link and a short bio about YOU. I will cross post the article on Bookshop Love, ending with a short profile about the author (you ... so there's somethign in it for you too)!
Please join this challenge.

(and do forward this challenge to an author near you!)
Thank you in advance,
Candy Gourlay


  1. Hi Candy,
    I would love to support this worthwhile cause. Unfortunately the one independent bookstore in my community closed last year.
    I too saw the news about Indiebound perhaps making it to the UK and truly hope this works out.
    Thanks for doing this.

  2. Yes, thanks for talking about this. It's a depressing book-buying landscape out there.

  3. Sadly, the same as Anne - we do have a second hand book shop but that's it....

  4. Hi Candy,

    Wonderful idea, but sadly here in prosperous Tunbridge Wells we have only the big guys plus a few specialists (art, air flight - honestly!) and several excellent second hand book shops. A kid's boook shop opened for a short while and then closed and I'm not surprised given the way they went about it.

    It's weird really because there are loads of readers and writers here, but Waterstones seems to sweep them all up.

  5. Hey, spare a little love for Waterstone's. Indies are great and all, but Waterstone's is a vital part of the book world, and makes reading easy and affordable for millions of people. Waterstone's sponsors book festivals across the UK, brings authors to readers in 1000s of events every year, holds an average of 35,000 titles in every store. It sponsors the Children's Laureate - currently Anthony Browne. It runs campaigns like What's Your Story? - which resulted in unpublished authors being published alongside JK Rowling, Margaret Attwood, Neil Gaiman, Lauren Child and many other great writers. It ran a competition to find an undiscovered illustrator to work with Julia Donaldson, the biggest name in picture books. It's very existence keeps many books in print.

    Of course, it is a big company and you can find fault, but if it wasn't here, the British book world - and readers - would suffer immeasurably. And yes, I do work for Waterstone's.

  6. Thanks all, and thanks Jon, for pointing out all good things about Waterstones - much agree, not finding fault at all.

    When I built the blog, I thought of calling it Indie Book Shop Love ... but I didn't because I wanted to be able to broaden its scope if it carries on.

    This is not a diatribe against Waterstones (or WH Smith or the supermarkets).

    It's a campaign to point out that the lack of competition in the bookselling market is not a service to the culture of reading and - more importantly to this blog's audience - writing.

  7. Sadly, Bristol doesn't have an independent book shop. We have got a very good map and guide book shop though - Stanfords. It is part of a chain of two, could I do that?

  8. Absolutely brilliant Alex - THANK YOU!

    i've set it up as the Bookshop Love Blog. Deadline? No hurry ... we will potter along and build this as write ups come in. I've had such a lovely response from authors and hopefully as the Christmas rush winds down, they will soon be sending some features in.


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