Saturday, 31 January 2015

Bookshop praise

The below is from the 'preamble' to issue 1 of Sonofabook (subscribe or buy copy here):

'A word on independent bookshops, whose quarter-page adverts in this issue were offered free. Without good small bookshops it is very hard for small publishers to get their books out into the physical world. In February 2014 the Booksellers Association reported that the number of independent bookshops in the UK had fallen below 1,000, following a year-on-year decline over the previous decade. This massacre is in part the consequence of ebooks and online buying, but a key moment was the abolition of the Net Book Agreement in 1997. The ending of the NBA – which required retailers to sell books at the cover price – led to aggressive discounting (which actually forces up the cover price of books, as publishers struggle to maintain their margins); concentrated bookselling in the hands of chainstores, supermarkets and Amazon; and forced the closure of hundreds of bookshops. The literary culture of the UK was changed overnight; but while France and Germany legislate to restrict discounting and offer good breaks to independent bookshops, none of the political parties in the UK cares a damn, this not being a vote-winning issue.

Back when CBe started up, I put books in a bag and trekked around some of the independent bookshops in London. It rained. I had no distributor, no trade reps, no reviews, no credibility and no umbrella. Johnny de Falbe at Sandoe’s read one of the books overnight and rang next day to order 40 copies; also supportive were Max Porter at Daunts (now an editor at Granta) and Matthew Crockatt at Crockatt & Powell (now with And Other Stories); and then Dennis Harrison at Albion Beatnik and Gavin Housley at Foyles and Jonathan Main at Bookseller Crow and Muna Khogali at Book & Kitchen, and others. I had never met any of these people before wandering into their shops. I owe them. The ads for bookshops in this first issue, and I hope in future issues too, are intended as more than just fillers.'


Anonymous said...

Not forgetting The Broadway Bookstore on Broadway Market in London--they always have CBe books in the poetry section. BBB.

Ross Bradshaw said...

I hope you now have an umbrella. Five Leaves in Nottingham stocks many CB titles and will stock the print edition of Sonof.