The Big Green Bookshop has helped raise funds to get a copy of nature anthology The Lost Words (Hamish Hamilton) into every school in Haringey.
Simon Key, co-owner of the independent store in London's Wood Green, started the crowdfunder on Saturday (23rd March) which reached its target of £1,000 in less than four days, meaning the book written by Robert Macfarlane with illustrations by Jackie Morris, will be sent to more than 80 schools in the north London borough. He has now extended the goal to £3,000 to get a copy into every school in neighbouring borough Enfield.
Key said he took the idea from Jane Beaton, who successfully crowdfunded to get the book into every school in Scotland last month by raising more than £25,000. Various other bookshops and individuals have also taken on the baton including the Yellow-Lighted Bookshop in Tetbury which raised £6,000 to get the title into every Gloucestershire school. The Edge of the World Bookshop has started a similar campaign for Cornwall schools, Sean Gibson for Wandsworth schools and Lisa Bremner for the Bedford borough.
Key revealed that he was “surprised” about the speed of the reaction to his call for copies in Haringey.
“I am noisy on Twitter but that doesn’t necessarily translate into action, I was surprised that people were so responsive," he told The Bookseller.
“If we raise £3,000 we can get it into every school in Enfield and then, if we get more money we can look at other neighbouring boroughs and after that, who knows? If we get more traction then who knows what could happen.”
“The book is a wonderful thing and so important. It looks at the nature words in the Oxford English Dictionary and encourages kids to go out and look at the nature around them. It is not just the countryside where they can do this, there are wonderful spaces in Haringey, and elsewhere, you just need to appreciate them.”
Key revealed the book had been a “cracking seller”, particularly over the Christmas period, with strong sales still continuing.
“I’ve been a fan of the book since I first saw it,” he said. “When I saw it, I thought... 'We need to have that on our shelves’. It does something special. The illustrations are sublime and Robert Macfarlane, he’s good with words, isn’t he? He knows what he’s doing. The collaboration works so well, they clearly know the subject matter and both care deeply for it.”
The shop's team will also send the field notes, An Explorers Guide to The Lost Words, to help provide teaching resources to schools, and Key said they had received a lot of supportive feedback from schools over the campaign.
“We hope the schools will realise the importance of it and share the wonder of nature.”
The literary community has been supportive of the campaign with Morris tweeting the Big Green Bookshop: “Congratulations. A small otter has pushed you over your target. Good luck with the stretched one.”
The Lost Words was also one of the most critically-acclaimed titles published last year and secured six ‘top picks’ from critics’ favourite books of 2017. It is shortlisted in The British Book Awards' Children's Book of the Year category.
It has sold 69,981 copies for £1.05m, according to Nielsen BookScan.