We need to put books back at the heart of British culture

We need to put books back at the heart of British culture

In December, Sharmaine Lovegrove was named FutureBook Person of the Year at the FutureBook Live 2018 conference. Here, she shares her hopes for what the next 12 months will bring in books.

I hope that 2019 is the year that the publishing industry really starts to appeal to the full range of potential readers across the country in order to create a nation of bibliophiles. There is a stark difference between how our European cousins see books as the foundation of culture from which all other creative mediums derive, and the stats that show the general British public tend to view literature as elitist and inaccessible.

Publishing is an important part of the cultural industries; we should better acknowledge our role within the arts as a crucial element within the arena of music, theatre and visual arts. I see it as our job to connect authors to readers and it is important that we seek creative ways to attract a new generation of readers from all demographics and areas of the country.

Blurring the lines between literary, genre and commercial fiction is a great way of doing this. Reviewers and critics need to open up their pages and their air time to more commercial and genre titles and bloggers could embrace more literary titles to create a cross-cultural balance. Editors, publicists and marketing departments need to be bolder and braver with their plans.

We have an advantage unique to books: we can publish anything or anyone and go. People want illuminating ideas and sublime stories and these can come from anyone and anywhere.  We need to be bolder in searching out these stories and experimenting with more ways of delivering them to readers.

By being accessible and inclusive – and this means opening offices outside London - we will reap the rewards of discovering voices from across the country accessing the diversity of talent and different perspectives that exist around the country and our expanding workforce will make us relevant and open to all.