Initial plans for this year's Independent Bookshop Week have been announced with Cressida Cowell designing a celebratory tote bag, a special Brian Bilston poem and early releases.
The annual celebration of independent bookshops across the UK and Ireland takes place between 19th and 26th June 2021, sponsored by Hachette.
With reopenings set for 12th April and social distancing restrictions to be removed from 21st June, the week will feature virtual and, wherever possible and safe, in-store activities. The campaign aims to celebrate “the incredible resilience and creativity demonstrated by independent booksellers over the past year, in the face of the multiple challenges posed by the pandemic”.
Early initiatives include Waterstones Children’s Laureate Cowell (pictured above) designing an exclusive Independent Bookshop Week children’s bag (pictured right), available exclusively from indies.
Elsewhere, Viv Groskop will be doing a series of virtual events for the paperback release of Au Revoir, Tristesse (Abrams Press), with signed stock available for indies. Alex T Smith, the author and illustrator behind the Claude and Mr Penguin series, will be doing an Instagram takeover tour for a number of different indies.
Jim Field, author and illustrator of Monsieur Roscoe on Holiday (Hodder Children's Books), will be involved in activities with bookshops near St Pancras, to celebrate the French theme of the book, in his first venture as a solo author-illustrator. Author and illustrator of Indigo Wilde and the Creatures of Jelly Bean Crescent (Hodder Children's Books), Pippa Curnick, will be creating window displays with her amazing, eye-poppingly bright illustrations, alongside in-store branded competitions and activities.
Bilston, dubbed the unofficial “Poet Laureate of Twitter” and author of Alexa, What is There to Know About Love (Picador) will be writing an exclusive poem in support of the campaign, celebrating the vital work of indie booksellers.
He said: “I’m thrilled to have been asked to write a poem in celebration of Independent Bookshop Week. And celebrated they should be. The past 12 months have been a stark reminder of the importance of our independent bookshops: the role they play in the heart of their communities; their ability to connect us with other people and other worlds; and the companionship of books. I don’t think I’ve missed anything more in this year of lockdowns than being able to pop into my local bookshop for a quick, casual browse only to emerge an hour or so later carrying enough books to stock a miniature library.”
During Independent Bookshop Week, graphic novel publisher SelfMadeHero is inviting all artists and book-lovers to create a quick sketch, drawing, or masterpiece of their favourite independent bookshop for a chance to be included in its #DrawYourBookshop Postcard Book that will be published later in the year. The winners will be announced during the summer, and offered a contract for the reproduction of their work.
The indie twinning strand of IBW is also coming back for a second year, with independent publishers and independent bookshops teaming up to develop bespoke programmes of activity across the country. Comma Press will be joining forces with Lighthouse Bookshop in Edinburgh to launch forthcoming anthology The American Way with a virtual event taking place on 23rd June from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. The event will feature co-editors Ra Page and Orsola Casagrande in conversation with Lighthouse bookseller Noor Hemani.
Andersen Press will be offering independent bookshops exclusive early release of two of Mr Benn titles by David McKee – Mr Benn 123456789 and Mr Benn Big Top – ahead of general release in July. Canongate will be doing an early release exclusively for indies of I Get Loud by David Ouimet, ahead of general release on 1st July. There will also be 500 early copies of Oi Aardvark (Hachette).
Emma Bradshaw, head of campaigns at the BA, said: “We can’t wait for Independent Bookshop Week 2021. The past year has undoubtedly been a challenging one for indie booksellers, but their resilience, flexibility and incredible hard work throughout national lockdowns has been deeply inspiring to witness. We’re looking forward to shining a light on the UK and Ireland’s brilliant indie booksellers during Independent Bookshop Week, and encouraging all book-lovers to support indies (whether on the high street or online) and join the celebrations.”