The Beast from the East puts book trade events on ice

The Beast from the East puts book trade events on ice

Heavy snowfall across the UK and Ireland has forced businesses to close and events to be cancelled or postponed due to safety concerns.

"The Beast from the East", or "Storm Emma", has swept through the country causing temperatures to plunge amid heavy snowfall. Both the Met Office and the Met Éireann have issued weather warnings in the UK and Ireland respectively.

The adverse weather conditions come at a particularly busy time for the trade with World Book Day (WBD) scheduled to take place on 1st March.

The organisers of WBD have "strongly encouraged" World Book Day event co-ordinators to be "safe and practical as they make decisions regarding changing plans."

They said: "We are aware that there have been school closures due to the inclement weather conditions across the country and expect these to continue tomorrow, on World Book Day.

"We know a great deal of children and young people will have put effort into activities for tomorrow. We’re encouraging schools to Share a Story and celebrate World Book Day as and when they can, in whatever way they can, so that children can celebrate reading, share stories with their teachers and peers, and so time and effort spent on costumes does not go to waste."

The World Book Day organisers will be extending the scheme's token redemption period beyond 25th March. The extension period will be confirmed depending on the weather in the coming days. In the meantime, participants are being urged to celebrate World Book Day by sharing stories, reading and enjoying books, and using the #shareastory hashtag on social media.

In Ireland, flights have been suspended at Dublin Airport, and the Irish Book Trade conference, which is being held at the The Radisson Blu Hotel, at Dublin Airport, is being postponed. Originally due to take place this Friday 2nd March, the event will now be held on Friday 23rd March. The Booksellers Association has advised delegates who have booked accommodation at the hotel to contact Philly Erdogan at to cancel or amend their bookings.

Also in Ireland, The Gutter Bookshop in Dublin has closed due to the bad weather after owner Bob Johnston decided the measure was necessary in order to keep his employees safe.

Johnston told The Bookseller: "It's always a difficult decision to close the bookshop, you don't want to disappoint customers (especially if they've trekked through snow to visit you) but as a business owner you need to be sure that your staff can not only make it into work but can get home safely too. With blizzards expected in Dublin from 3pm today, and staff who all rely on public transport to get them home, I felt that I had no choice but to stay closed."

The bad weather has also led to book trade events being cancelled. Irish independent publisher Lilliput Press has postponed the launch event for its Mindfully Me Series which was scheduled for Saturday 3rd March, and the launch of Peadar Ó Guilín's The Invasion (David Fickling), due to take place on Thursday 1st March, has been cancelled. Ó Guilín tweeted: "The weather did us in. Take care all of you and please spread the word so nobody shivers alone in the snow with no cake."

In Glasgow, Aye Write festival's Wee Write schools programme, due to take place on 1st and 2nd March, has also been put on ice. The organisers are hoping to reschedule the prigramme.

The adverse weather conditions have also forced the Mainstreet Trading Company in St Boswell's, Scotland, to cancel its author event with Celia Imrie.

Roz de la Hey, owner of The Mainstreet Trading company told The Bookseller: "[The snow fall] is unbelievable; it's almost biblical. We've never had a red warning in Scotland before. Celia had an event at Topping's in St Andrew's last night and she was all gung-ho about coming down, but it's much worse here in the Borders and I didn't want her to get stranded. We've also had customers call up saing they can't move their cars, which is another problem. It just wouldn't be safe to go ahead with it."

She added: "We've been able to open today with a skeleton staff, and the cafe has been relatively busy, but not so much on the books side. The snow is coming down in droves, it's about six inches, and the worst is yet to come. I really hope we won't have to close."

Similarly, Simon & Schuster imprint Scribner's showcase event has been cancelled in London due to the snow. The publisher said it would rescedule for in a few weeks’ time.