The Booksellers Association (BA) has commissioned an autobiographical essay by Robert Macfarlane to celebrate Independent Bookshop Week’s 10th anniversary. The essay will be available exclusively to independent bookshops in the UK and Ireland from 16th June.
The 5,000 word essay The Gifts of Reading (Penguin) will cover the themes of travel and reading, and the importance and value of giving and receiving books. It will explore how every book is a kind of gift to its reader, and the how the act of giving books is charged with "a special emotional resonance - an exchange of intellectual and psychological currency - that leaves both the giver and the recipient the richer". Macfarlane will recount the story of a book he was given as a young man, and how he managed eventually to return the favour, though never repay the debt.
Macfarlane emphasised the importance of bookshops and libraries to the "reading life" of the country. He said: "I was thrilled to write in celebration of independent bookshops in this anniversary year. Our bookshops - like our libraries - are simply vital to the reading life of this country. I know from my own meetings up and down the country, and over the years, what passion, knowledge and expertise gets shown and shared in independent bookshops. To write an essay in praise of the book-as-gift, to have the essay published by Penguin and sold in all indie bookshops, and to have all profits going to the Migrant Offshore Aid Station is just a huge privilege and pleasure."
Kate Gunning, Penguin Random House’s independent retailers partnership manager, said: “Robert has always been a wonderful advocate and supporter of independent bookshops; indies love Robert's books and sell huge quantities of them. So imagine how proud and delighted we are at PRH to be publishing Robert's essay, The Gifts of Reading, as an independents exclusive for IBW. It is simply beautiful. I hope indies, wherever they are, will take great pleasure in selling it to their customers during IBW and beyond.”
The Gifts of Reading will be published one month after the paperback publication of Macfarlane’s Landmarks (Hamish Hamilton) in hardback. Proceeds from the sales of The Gifts of Reading will go to Robert Macfarlane’s nominated charity, Migrant Offshore Aid Station.
It will be published as a small-format Penguin paperback on 16th June priced at £2.50, and will be available exclusively to independent bookshops.