Independent bookshops are gearing up for a second year of events to mark “Civilised Saturday” – billed as the antidote to the mayhem of deep discounting day Black Friday.
"Great British Bake Off"-inspired events, wine, chocolate and the cosiness Danish lifestyle philosophy of hygge feature heavily in genteel plans for the day (26th November), intended for independent shops to lure in customers averse to the madness of Black Friday (25th November) which sees many chain and online retailers offer deep discounts on stock and has previously resulted in till-side scuffles.
Former "Great British Bake Off" host Mary Berry will be signing copies of her new book Mary Berry’s Family Sunday Lunches (Headline) at the Chorleywood Bookshop in Hertfordshire on the day, where “civilised refreshments” will be on display, before heading off to Gerrards Cross Bookshop to sign more copies for respectful fans at 12.45pm.
The Bookshop in East Grinstead is likewise embracing the GBBO theme, hosting a ‘Bookshop Bake Off’ cake sale with 50% of the profits going to the Kent Surrey Sussex Air Ambulance Trust, alongside offering wine and chocolate.
Meanwhile, Wenlock Books in Shropshire is hosting a hygge-inspired Civilised Saturday centred around "cosiness, warmth and relaxed Christmas shopping". Picaresque Books & Galerie in Fantoosh is also joining in with the hygge theme, offering mince pies, chocolate and mulled wine, as well as an orchestral ensemble to create a “relaxed and entertaining environment” for shoppers. Hygge is tipped to be a Christmas trend in book presents this Christmas, with several titles currently vying for shoppers’ attention.
Other events to mark the promotional day, instigated by the Booksellers Association (BA), include The Florist Helen Whipp at Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights in Bath to bring some natural calm to the day by pressing flowers between pages of books across the bookshop for customers to discover as they browse. The Edinburgh Bookshop will be offering drinks, snacks and the return of last year’s popular ‘Singing Butler’, while Southcart Books will be hosting a ‘Civilised Book Club’, followed by an afternoon of poetry and philosophy read by local authors.
A spokesperson for the BA said: “This year’s Civilised Saturday is bigger and better than last year…Booksellers across the country will also be on hand to help recommend this year’s must-buy Christmas books.”
Booksellers reported that last year’s inaugural Civilised Saturday was a “fantastic success” despite others in the industry, such as Bonnier’s Nick Coveney, criticising the campaign name as “cringe” and “awfully cultured”, while questioning “for an industry increasingly notorious for its cosseted cultural snobbery, is Civilised Saturday a wise branding exercise?"
Meanwhile Amazon, which brought Black Friday over to the UK from the US over five years ago, is in the middle of two weeks of discounted promotions, beginning from last Monday (14th November).