The Book Hive in Norwich has teamed up with a local book club to help spread opposition to Donald Trump through literature.
The group bought several copies of three books from the shop at cost price - George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (Penguin Modern Classics), Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (Vintage) and Erik Larson’s In the Garden of Beasts (Transworld) - and is encouraging the bookshop's customers to take them away for free as part of the Read Up! Fight Back! campaign. The movement reaches out to people "beyond the bubble of those who already share our opposition to Donald Trump”, which first begun in Haight-Ashbury, California.
Despite the recent sky-rocketing of sales of dystopian titles in the charts, Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four (Signet) shooting to the US number one spot earlier this month, the bookshop has agreed to bypass any profits by giving up space in the bookshop to display the titles, which customers can take free of charge.
Bookshop owner Henry Layte said he wanted to get involved as “a good way to hopefully get the books out there to people who haven’t read them before - and they can try and make sense of what the hell Donald Trump is up to!”
He added missing out on profits from the chart-climbing tomes while devoting space was not a concern and that he was happy to “chip in” this way. "When someone has an idea that is so generous themselves - this lady is raising the money from her book group to buy all these books - it would be unpleasant of me to say ‘no I want to make a few quid out of it’," he said. "We sell the books anyway and we’ll make money on them in the future. I just thought it was a really lovely idea, when particular things are under threat that people want to get together and donate money.”
The exercise follows a similar initiative in 2014 in response to reports Michael Gove was taking US novels like To Kill A Mockingbird off the GCSE curriculum. Eimear McBride, then a recent Baileys prize-winner, was reportedly "so horrified” that she bought copies of the book and left them in shops for people to help themselves to, according to Layte.
In the context of recent protests against Trump in Norwich, Layte added: “I feel a bookshop should be part of it. These titles and others are absolute touchstones for 20th and 21st century culture when thinking about the kind of mess we’re in, so a bookshop should certainly be involved in that. This is a small way of doing that.”