Edinburgh indie proposes World Book Night alternative

An Edinburgh independent has proposed an alternative to World Book Night next year, where readers buy tickets to attend book swap events across the country.

Vanessa Robertson, co-owner of the Edinburgh Bookshop, said she has received interest from shops in California and Australia for The Great Big Book Swap. Mooted for 3rd March 2012, she has suggested indies hold book swap events on the same night, with money raised from the events being put back into a fund to buy books at trade price. These books will be given away to reading groups in the community.

Robertson was a staunch critic of World Book Night and said her concept encourages more people to read but in a way she believes is better for the health of the industry. She said: “The idea that you give away books is a great thing, but we have to do it in a way that is sustainable for the whole trade.”

She added she thought book shops were “marginalised” by WBN and believes it was “no accident” that in the same month it took place, book sales across the industry fell by 8.7%, reaching a six-year low.

She added The Great Book Swap was “an event which isn’t about top-down decision-making but about the grassroots, where any book can be included without authors and publishers losing out and where bookshops can be responsive to the needs and tastes of their customers and communities.”

More information about the proposed event can be found on the State of Independents blog.