IBW 'has taken on creative life of its own'

IBW 'has taken on creative life of its own'

The co-ordinator of Independent Bookshop Week has said this year's IBW is what the Booksellers Association has "always envisioned", with the event taking on a "creative life of its own." Meanwhile booksellers said their events had been "well attended" this year and that IBW 2015 was "the biggest yet". 

Meryl Halls, head of membership services for the BA, responsible for coordinating the week, said the 9th year of the event, which encourages the public to shop at independent booksellers through events and media coverage, had been a been a "wonderful spectacle".

"I’m constantly in awe of the creativity that flows around IBW – this is what we envisioned when we started, and now it truly has taken on a creative life of its own," Halls said. "You can only marvel at the illustrators taking on whole shop windows to decorate; The Bookshop Band making a whole Patrick Gale album; poems, essays and short stories being written in praise of the Week; the whole range of bookshop events , and the bedecking and bedazzling that goes on inside the shops.  It seems – from the relative calm of our London office – that bookshops are buzzing with happy customers, busy booksellers and often active authors and illustrators." 

Halls added she was pleased also with this year's mainstream press coverage of the event, citing the Guardian, which supported the IBW Guide to the Best Children’s Books and ran articles on their Children’s Books site. "We’ve also had great support from the publishing community, especially with our social media campaign, which has built every year - and we have trended on Twitter almost every day this week – the #giveabook hashtag really generated interest  in Father’s Day gifting," Halls said.  "It can be a funny week at the BA – you’ve done all the hard prep work, and then you have to wait for the booksellers to actually deliver the punch – but they always do, and I am, as always, in awe of their energy and their creativity."

Halls also put a call out for any any potential partners who’d like to make a splash with indie bookshops in 2016 - the event's 10th year to "get in touch."

IBW ended on 27th June, following a Bookshop Crawl on Saturday.  Back by popular demand after last year, this year's crawl invited publishers and book trade organisations to take part for the first time. Participants were invited to to blog or vlog about their visit to an independent bookshop - either fitting in as many bookshops as possible in one day, or doing a larger feature on their particular favourite. The winning blog of vlog will take away National Book Tokens worth £50, the entire IBW Book Award shortlist and an ‘IBW Bookshop Crawl Winner 2015’ digital banner designed specifically for their website or social media.  

Author Liz Fenwick was among those who took part, visiting 12 bookshops in London including Dulwich Books and Daunts in Marylebone. The Publishers Association also took part, with Emma House and Seonaid MacLeod visiting London Review Bookshop and Regency Books, among others. 

Events throughout the week have included a bookshop bed in David's Bookshop in Letchworth, where customers have been invited to read to each other for 24 hours from a bed based in the shop, illustrators painting bookshop windows, including a Peter Pan window at The Mainstreet Trading company painted by Birlinn's Stephen White, author events, including Emma Healey working as a bookseller in Jarrold's in Norwich and a plethora of The Tiger Came to Tea parties and summer garden parties, including at Caxton Bookshop and Gallery in Frinton-on-Sea. 

Melanie Butt, assistant manager at David's Bookshop in Letchworth, which hosted author Emma Healey during the week and held a Bookshop Readathon, said: "We definitely sold more books because the shop was open until midnight for the Readathon. There were definitely more people around as well because Letchworth also held a festival last week. Our IBW events were a really great success and very well attended and brought a lot of customers in."

Ros de la Hey of Mainstreet Trading Company, St Boswells, said: "It's been a great week with IBW, the biggest yet.  Among many highlights, our younger customers loved meeting the White Rabbit (with thanks to our rep, Gillian, for braving the costume!), and our older customers really appreciated double reward points with Love Your Indie."

Eleanor Davies, owner of Lingham's Bookshop in Heswell [pictured], said: "We decked our whole window out in IBW decorations and held two author events, including Welsh author Gee Williams and authors Meg Parkes and Geoff Gill. We had a lot of people in for those events, but if I am completely honest I think more people are aware of the Books Are My Bag campaign, because that has celebrities backing it. But the week is definitely good for booksellers, it focuses you and makes you raise your game. Sales have been up all in June, it had been a good month."