Independent bookshops across the UK and Ireland are preparing to offer customers "bibliotherapy" this weekend as part of the the inaugural Saturday Sanctuary celebrations, with events including calming offerings such as Book Spas, Yoga sessions and massage therapy.
Saturday Sanctuary is the new iteration of the Bookseller’s Association’s Civilised Saturday campaign, which intends to offer a "balm to the chaos of Black Friday". Launched by Amazon, Black Friday has seen e-commerce companies and retail giants such as Walmart offer deep discounts to shoppers about a month before Christmas, and has previously seen customers fight in supermarkets over high ticket goods such as televisions.
The campaign’s previous name of Civilised Saturday had been criticised by some in the industry for helping to exacerbate the publishing trade’s “snobby” reputation. Evoking the image of a relaxing spa, the Saturday Sanctuary is intended to be “gentle recasting” of the promotion, said the BA’s Alan Staton. It will take place on 25th November, the day after Black Friday, and encourage customers to celebrate bookshops as places of “calm and respite from our hectic daily lives”.
Bookshops across the UK and Ireland are preparing to host an array activities to mark the event including bake sales and silent discos.
The Bridge Bookshop in Wicklow, Ireland will be hosting two sessions with a yoga teacher who will teach customers poses and stretches that can be done to relax while reading. Owner Hilary Hamilton said: "We thought yoga would be the ultimate way to relax, especially after the madness of the day before! I hope we’ll get a good turn out for it."
Forum Books in Corbridge, Northumberland will put on a silent disco as well as "tasty treats" from the staff's favourite cookery books.
"We have wireless headsets for the silent discos so they don't disturb anyone", said owner Helen Stanton. "We got the funds to get them from the grants HarperCollins gave to indie booksellers. We put on book based discos, with tracks inspired by our favourite books. We have one playlist for children, one for grown-ups. We’ve done it before and was great. Kids especially really enjoy it as its not something they’d expect from a bookshop. I'm really looking forward to Saturday."
At the same time, the Sheelagh na Gig Bookshop in County Tipperary, Ireland will be putting on a ‘Book Spa’ which will see book 'consultants' help customers choose the “perfect” title for them while they relax with a complimentary hand-blended herbal tea from Lime Tree Botanics. One of the founders of Lime Tree will be on hand to help visitors select a herbal bath, facial or soak to go along with their book.
All book and gift purchases at the Book Spa will be offered at 10% off and costumers will be entered into a free draw for a Book Spa hamper which includes a selection of Lime Tree Botanics herbal tea samplers, a selection of organic raw Magic Mayan chocolate, a Purity Belle soy candle in a lovely Curragh Pottery cup, an Irish Book Award nominated book as chosen by the hamper winner and a €20 gift voucher for Sheelagh na Gig bookshop.
Sheryl Shurville, owner of the Chorleywood and Gerrards Cross bookshop in Hertfordshire, said the shops will be holding a Civilised Sunday instead, which works better for the business. "We're able to draw more people in on Sundays", she said. "We have more staff on, free prosecco, coffee, tea, shortbread and chocolates, as well as 15% off everything that day. I think we're going to be really busy and we'll have a very positive response. It was really good last year. It's a very small town, [so the initiative] gets people down to the shop."
Meanwhile, East Grinstead Bookshop will be transforming itself into an “oasis of calm” on Saturday evening and visitors will be able to enjoy a “gentle relaxing ambience of heavenly natural aromas”, alongside some late night shopping. There will also be masseuses and reflexologists on hand for customers. During the day the shop will be giving out glasses of wine and homemade chocolates.
Marie Moser, owner of the Edinburgh Bookshop, said the store would offer "festive snacks and surprises" accompanied by soothing music but admitted the more peaceful elements may prove difficult for the shop. She said: "Because we're physically a small store, although luckily a very busy one, it is hard to promote the idea of 'sanctuary'. There is not space to offer hand massages but I will look at what my colleagues will do to draw inspiration for next year."
The day will also see the Hungerford Bookshop in Berkshire offering 10% off all its stock, Cambridge University Press Bookshop will tempt browsers with cakes and Linlithgow's Far From the Madding Crowd will offer hot drinks and cakes to customers.