Indie Book Day is set to make a mark on the UK this year after starting in Germany two years ago and quickly spreading across Europe.
The campaign – which hopes to become comparable to the American Record Store Day event, but for books – wants readers to flock to independent bookshops on 21st March to buy a title by an independent publisher.
The campaign day was launched in Germany in 2013 and quickly spread across the continent to the Netherlands, Portugal, Switzerland, Austria, Italy and the UK in 2014, with organisers hoping this year it will break through the Eurozone to other countries around the world.
Daniel Beskos from German independent publisher Mairisch Verlag said Indie Book Day was created to simultaneously support independent publishers which create excellent titles they don’t always have the marketing spend to support, and independent bookshops, which often champion less well-known books.
He told The Bookseller: “The ethos of this campaign is about supporting independent publishers because - I can say that at least for German speaking countries - they care very much about the quality, the design and the marketing of their books and the structures their authors work in. Independent publishers might not have the same marketing and distribution power as the multinational publishing groups, but they have books which have been edited thoroughly, designed extraordinarily, and in many cases widen our view of the world, and we feel it's a good thing to raise attention for that.”
He added: “It is also about supporting independent bookshops, because independent bookshops have people who decide which books they want to sell, it is those people who actually still read the books they sell and thus have always been supporting independent publishers. Independent bookshops have always seen the creative and special potential in our books and are able to communicate this to their customers."
Indie Book Day provides publishers and bookshops who wish to participate in the day with downloadable posters and bookmarks and other branded point of sale tools, which can be found on the site.
“We encourage bookshops to have a window display with independent books, a table with independent books and organize a reading in the shop,” Beskos said.
Customers who participate in the Indie Book Day event are also encouraged to post a picture of the book, the cover or themselves with the book on social media or a blog, using the hashtag "#indiebookday".
The event is similar in ethos to Independent Bookshop Week, taking place on 20th-27th June this year, and to the Books Are My Bag campaign, which encourages customers to shop at high street bookshops as opposed to buy online.
However, the Booksellers Association (BA) isn’t concerned about a clash of messages to consumers and is urging readers to take part in Indie Book Day.
Meryl Halls, head of membership services at the BA, said: “The BA’s Independent Bookshops Week will once again highlight all that is good about independent bookshops and we encourage our members to take advantage of other positive initiatives like Indie Book Day. Book buyers tell us that high street bookshops are still the best place to discover new books and new authors.”
Independent bookseller Sheila O’Reilly said: “I think this is a super idea, as it is taking place in March I don't think it would clash with Independent Bookshop Week or BAMB for that matter. IBW, whilst being of course a celebration of indie bookshops, often uses events, authors in bookshops as the key selling point to lure customers in, whereas this is a direct message, buy a book in an independent bookshop, so all bookshops can take part, they don't have to put on an event but could still benefit from the campaign.” She added: “Certainly there is the opportunity for independent bookshops to partner with independent publishers…The authors from indie publishers could tweet that their book is in such and such a bookshop.”
Independent publishers in the UK have also welcomed the campaign. OneWorld publisher Juliet Mabey said: “I think this initiative sounds fantastic, and should garner tremendous support from the public if well promoted. We’d certainly be very keen to participate.” She added that the company’s new head of sales, Kate Beal was “really keen to work more closely with independent booksellers, something you see much more in US than here when it comes to indie publishers.”
Alessandro Gallenzi, publisher at Alma Books, added: "We are delighted to hear about the continued success of Indiebookday in Europe, and that it's coming to Britain again this year. We hope this can become a regular fixture in the UK. British indie publishers work very closely with independent bookshops, and initiatives such as this help give exposure to the wealth, variety and quality of the independent publishing scene in the UK."
Bridget Shine, c.e.o of the Independent Publishers Guild, said she was well-aware of the promotion and said it was a natural alliance between independent publishers and booksellers. “It is a huge event in Germany,” she said, adding that there was an opportunity for UK indies to discuss the campaign at the IPG Conference next month (4th-6th March).
Record Store Day began in 2007 in the US when over 700 independent music stores came together with artists to celebrate music and encourage people to shop at indies on a particular day of the year. The UK followed suit with 2015 marking the eighth Indie Record Store Day.