Alan Johnson: 'Why I love Books Are My Bag'

Alan Johnson: 'Why I love Books Are My Bag'

The Books Are My Bag campaign launches tomorrow (14th September), with former Labour home secretary Alan Johnson among the high-profile figures revealing this week why they support the campaign.

Johnson, whose local bookshop is the Hessle Bookshop in the East Riding of Yorkshire, told The Bookseller that books had been vital to his success.

He said: “My childhood was lived in very poor conditions [in London] but my mother took us—me and my sister—to the Ladbroke Grove library before we could even walk. If there was one single reason we came out of that environment not too damaged, it was books—being able to discover them, and the power of reading.” He added: “I love books and bookshops have been an important part of my life.”

Black Swan author Kathy Lette said: “We have to save our bookstores because super-chains like Amazon and Tesco churn out predictable, bestselling fiction. What is lovely about high street bookstores is it is like a deli full of delicious book delicacies.” She added: “Plus, a bookshop is a great place to pick up a guy, it saves you a lot of time. If you see someone cute picking up Jeffrey Archer, then stay clear, but if you see him picking up Proust, Jane Austen or the Kama Sutra Advanced, then you know he’s a good one.”

Tom Jones, author of Tired of London, Tired of Life (Virgin Books), said: “I really like bookshops. Often in this day and age we sit at home on our own, looking at a flashing screen, and that is no way to live. I am not against online shopping, but it is good to touch an object and feel them with all your senses, it brings them to life. Clicking a few buttons to buy a book is a bit soulless by comparison.”

Patrick Neale, the president of the Booksellers Association, told a crowd at the media launch of BAMB on Monday night (9th September) that a third of bookshops had closed in the past 10 years—which equated to one bookshop closure a week for the past decade.

People of note who have agreed to feature on the BAMB campaign posters include model Lily Cole, journalist Jon Snow, “Britain’s Got Talent” judge Amanda Holden, actors Robson Green and Lynda Bellingham, presenter Fern Britton, cook Mary Berry, glamour model turned author Katie Price, and journalists Andrew Marr and Jeremy Vine. Authors joining the M & C Saatchi initiative include Neil Gaiman, Sebastian Faulks, Marian Keyes, Jojo Moyes and Julia Donaldson.

Editor's blog: A complex trade