Big Issue founder launches literary magazine to create 'reading revolution'

Big Issue founder launches literary magazine to create 'reading revolution'

Big Issue founder John Bird is launching a new quarterly literary magazine containing chapters, extracts and poems from a range of writers in a bid to create a “reading revolution” and increase bookshop and library footfall.

Chapter Catcher will officially launch on Thursday 13th June with a conversation between Bird and Stephen Fry at the House of Saint Barnabus, Soho. 

Bird told The Bookseller: “By going through bookshops and libraries we’re trying to increase footfall into those places. What we want is for everybody to read.”

He said the publishing world had been receptive to the idea so far and he was looking for more people to get involved. Readers will also be encouraged to seek out books they had never heard of after getting hooked by a chapter, he said.

Appearing unannounced at a podium during a Publishers Association parliamentary reception on Tuesday, Bird handed out copies of the first issue, pitched his new idea and told the audience: “Go to your bookshops, they need us.”

He told them: “It’s just a load of chapters and the idea is to get people to read wider and deeper. It is taking people on a journey.”

Phil Ryan, the magazine’s publisher, said the team would also be holding events and workshops, forming reading groups and “doing everything we can to bring books to life”.

He said: “Giving people access to the books that matter is at the heart of what we’re doing, bringing them into schools, prison libraries, local bookshops – pretty much everywhere. More than reading, we’re forming communities, supporting local businesses and creating a social echo to save our high street, and to open our minds.”

Priced at £4.99, the publication includes chapters from contemporary novels, classic literature, non-fiction and “in process” work. Bird said it would be on sale at bookshops while free copies would be available to prisons, schools, libraries and community groups. Charities selling the magazine will also get 50% of the money from sales.

Its first issue features a wide-ranging selection of extracts from Fry, Max Porter and Richard Wiseman to Virginia Woolf and Franz Kafka. There is also an essay from a prison inmate about life behind bars which Bird said was “incredible”