IBW 'raised the bar' but publishers 'could do more'

IBW 'raised the bar' but publishers 'could do more'

Independent Bookshop Week (IBW) “went up a gear” in 2018, according to Rosamund de la Hey, owner of St Boswell’s bookshop The Mainstreet Trading Company, but publishers could do “much more” in terms of offering exclusive editions, she said.

Booksellers Association m.d. Meryl Halls thanked those in the book trade for supporting its campaign calling for bookshops to receive the same business-rate discount as pubs. Its petition has nearly 5,000 signatures.

The annual week-long celebration of indie bookshops, opened on 16th June and saw 420 shops participate. De la Hay’s St Boswell’s shop marked its 10th birthday during the week, with a feast of books, food and music. Festivities kicked off with a visit from Sir Michael Morpurgo, who was awarded his “Mainstreet Makar” rosette in front of a packed room of fans, before the business’ courtyard was transformed into a market scene, adorned with bunting, trestle tables and food stalls. Inspired by refugee tale The Day the War Came by Nicola Davies and illustrator Rebecca Cobb (Walker), a charity cake stall raised £362 for Save the Children’s work in Syria.


The Mainstreet Trading Company's celebrations for its 10th birthday and IBW included a visit from Michael Morpurgo

The Alligator’s Mouth Bookshop in Richmond, south-west London, used the #bookshophero hashtag to celebrate its staff, posting pictures on social media, while The Book Nook in Hove—named Children’s Bookseller of the Year at The British Book Awards 2018— hosted authors Abie Longstaff and Sophy Henn. The Bookshop Kibworth in Leicester welcomed Carol Ann Duffy as part of a Shore2Shore poetry tour.

De la Hey said: “IBW went up a gear this year, with the brilliant Bookshop Heroes strand—complete with superhero cape—perfect for social media, plus linking the new business rates campaign to the overall IBW message. There was lots of support from publishers—standouts being Shore2Shore, and sustained support from the Hachette Group—however, on the exclusives front, I think there is much more that can be done, with the emphasis on quality, not quantity... content more akin to Record Store Day.”

The Shore2Shore poetry tour

Halls revealed authors Patrick Gale, Kate Mosse, Matt Haig and Hadley Freeman had signed the BA’s petition calling on the government to give bookshops a discount on their business rates, which could alleviate pressure on more than 500 in the UK, many of whom are “crippled” by the “out of date” tax. Currently pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000 are offered £1,000 off their rate bill. “The BA is delighted at the positive response to the launch of our business rates petition. Having booksellers, publishers and the press get behind the online petition, having The Bookseller actively support the campaign, and seeing high-profile support on Twitter from authors [...] helps prove the point that consumers and book lovers, as well as writers and the trade, really want to see action taken to recognise bookshops in the business rates system,” Halls said.

The next step of the campaign will see the BA write to MPs and representatives in the devolved parliaments, as well as lobbying local government. “We will shortly be actively encouraging our members to write to their MPs with the same message, as well as making their own representations to local government,” Halls said.

Philip Pullman signed books for fans at Drake-The Bookshop