Publishers have ramped up their support for Independent Bookshop Week (IBW) this year, with a raft of exclusive editions, including an essay by Philip Pullman.
As booksellers prepare for the 11th annual IBW (24th June–1st July), publishers have flexed their literary muscle to help indies entice customers into stores. Along with the exclusive editions, retailers will be able to give staff free tote bags marking the 20th anniversary of J K Rowling’s first Harry Potter book (Bloomsbury), and 15 staff from Hachette are to try their hand working on bookshop floors—including Little, Brown and Orion c.e.o. David Shelley and Jamie Hodder-Williams, c.e.o. of Hodder & Stoughton.
Ahead of the release of the first title in the much-anticipated new trilogy from Pullman, The Book of Dust (Penguin Random House Children’s/David Fickling Books), the bestselling author has given indie bookshops an exclusive essay to sell. Imaginary Friends, published by David Fickling, is an essay written in answer to Richard Dawkins’ assertion that fairytales may have a pernicious effect on children, with reference to the author’s own experience of reading and imagining. Pullman asks the simple question: How do children read fairytales? He answers it using his experience, drawing on the stories that meant the most to him as a child. The book will be available to sell exclusively from 24th June.
Rosamund de la Hey, owner of The Mainstreet Trading Company in St Boswells, said: “There are lots of brilliant offers for IBW this year, but I know the Philip Pullman essay will be embraced with open arms by booksellers. If you said to them they could have anything they want, they would have said that. "The essay is an exclusive preview of Daemon Voices: Essays on Storytelling by Pullman, which will be published in hardback on 2nd November. It follows in the footsteps of previous IBW exclusive essays by Robert Macfarlane, Julian Barnes, Anne Patchett and Mark Forsyth.
Participating bookshops will also benefit from early, exclusive access to the Faber & Faber Poetry Diary 2018, available to indie bookshops from mid-June but not released to the rest of the trade until the end of August; an Ian Rankin Anniversary Box Set, specially curated by Orion and containing Knots and Crosses, Black and Blue and Exit Music, all signed by Rankin; and an early release of The Art of Reading by Damon Young (£9.99, Scribe), exclusively available to independent bookshops from mid-June before its general release on 10th August. Limited-edition signed, numbered book plates and A3 posters will also be available with orders.
In terms of giveaways, customers will be able to put their books into limited edition IBW 2017 tote bags featuring Bloomsbury’s 20th anniversary Hogwarts house shields, marking two decades since the launch of the Harry Potter series with Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
For kids, Walker Books’ Find Wally hunt is back by popular demand, this time celebrating 30 years of the famous bespectacled character. Booksellers will also be invited to spread the “Get Local” message by livening up their towns with community-wide, month-long Wally hunts. They will receive a free kit containing instructions, posters, stickers, a sample press release, social media assets and prizes to help them organise the event.
Along similar lines, Penguin Random House Children’s is encouraging bookshops to launch a Monster Hunt in their towns in conjunction with local businesses to coincide with the release of Tom Fletcher's There’s a Monster in Your Book on 29th June. The company is providing in-store materials and Monster Treasure Hunt Activity Sheets.
Faber illustrator Carolina Rabei, meanwhile, is offering to design window displays pro bono for two bookshops. She achieved a distinction in children’s book illustration at the Cambridge School of Art and recently the illustrated Walter de la Mare’s seasonal quartet of picture books for Faber.
Macmillan Children’s has organised a Middle Grade Mashup Author Tour, with 10 indie bookshops and a range of authors participating, while Hachette staff have taken up the gauntlet thrown down by Booksellers Association president de la Hey at the beginning of her tenure in September 2016: for publishers to work on a bookshop floor in order to understand booksellers’ work and converse with “real” customers. Several such exchanges have already taken place but during IBW, 15 Hachette staff—including J K Rowling’s publisher Shelley, Hodder- Williams and all the publisher’s divisional m.d.s—will be placed in a bookshop as part of the Hachette Shopfloor Publishers Project. Clare Harington, group communications director, said: “There is huge enthusiasm here for the idea, as we believe that working together is the best way to learn from each other and, for us publishers, meeting book-buyers on the shop floor is always very
Authors are also out in force to support indies, with Donal Ryan, Cressida Cowell and Macmillan authors Fiona Cummins, Nell Stevens, Graham Caveney, Natalie Haynes, Cathy Rentzenbrink, Daniel Rachel, Clare Mulley, Ed Docx, Ray Celestin and David Wilbourne all scheduled to hold events at bookshops.
Meryl Halls, head of membership services for the BA, which co-ordinates the week-long celebration, said: “Last year’s 10th anniversary was going to be hard to top, but we are delighted with the support we’ve received from publishers for 2017. I think Independent Bookshop Week is lodged in publishers’ minds now as a part of the promotional year, and we no longer have to
explain to them what we are trying to do with IBW.” She added: “We have some wonderful children’s offers, from the exclusive Harry Potter 20th anniversary tote bags and Maisy Goes to the Bookshop [Walker] p.o.s. materials, to the amazing Macmillan Middle Grade Mashup Author Tour and Carolina Rabei illustrated windows. We are so looking forward to the week when indie collection, Dæmon Voices. bookshops really showcase themselves as the heart of their high streets. This year we really will be flying the flag for indies.”
Statistics revealed earlier this year by the BA showed that the rate at which the number of its independent members were elapsing their membership—either due to closure or failure to renew—was slowing. In 2017, the BA’s membership included 867 UK indies.
The Haslemere Bookshop celebrating IBW in 2016