Books not beer

A couple of weeks ago I sat with the wonderful and talented designer, Stefanie Posavec, sharing a beer and lamenting the fact that stories about indie bookshop closures seem to have become a permanent fixture in The Bookseller over the summer. At one point there were four bookshop closures in one week.

I stared down at my £3.60 pint and suddenly it dawned on me—books, not beer. Here we are catching up at the pub, spending a tenner without even thinking, and meanwhile our reading wishlists are growing longer and longer.

Now, I cannot proclaim mathematical genius but my calculations tell me that if Stef and I had met for a glass of fizzy water instead of a couple of pints we could have afforded at least one of the books on our wishlists. A whole month of sobriety would give us every book on our list plus a number of Christmas presents for nieces and nephews, not to mention a plethora of health benefits and a whole lot of kudos with our favourite bookshop. Win, win, win and . . . win! And, as if all this was not serendipitous enough, sober rhymes with October. It simply doesn’t get better than that.

So, with summer behind us and the silly season ahead, we want you to join us in going Sober this October in support of your favourite independent bookshop. The premise is very simple:

1. Pick an independent bookshop you want to support

2. During the month of October go sober for a day, a week, a month (or however long you need to in order to secure the funds for that hardback you’ve been drooling over) and squirrel away any money you save through sobriety

3. On 1st November, go to your favourite indie bookstore and spend what you’ve saved

We’ll be profiling Sober October participants and their bookshops on the campaign website and we would love to see your profile up there too. Visit to see who has already signed up and to add your profile. You can follow our progress on Twitter with the #booksnotbeer hashtag.

And should any indies out there want to host a sober event we would be happy to promote it on the website, Facebook page and via Twitter. A Friday tea and cake night in the local bookshop sounds pretty appealing to me—imagine waking up on a Saturday morning beside a stack of beautiful books and not a bleary eye in sight!

Books not beer people, Sober October is here. We know it’s a bit bonkers, but it just might work.