'Sea of orange' for Books Are My Bag launch

'Sea of orange' for Books Are My Bag launch

Booksellers Association c.e.o. Tim Godfray has said the country will “wake up to a sea of orange” next weekend (14th September) as bookshops ranging from W H Smith to independents prepare to launch the M & C Saatchi Books Are My Bag campaign with events and give-aways.

W H Smith is stocking bookmarks and bags for customers who buy books on the launch weekend, and giving out 400 free bags at The Cake and Bake Show at Earls Court on the 13th–15th September. Waterstones said it had bought a “significant” number of BAMB bags and would support the launch through its social media channels and online blog.

Among independents, Lingham’s Bookshop in Merseyside, winner of Independent Bookseller of the Year at The Bookseller Industry Awards in May, will hold a competition asking customers to guess how many printed pages are contained in two bags full of books, with the closest guess winning a bag full of classic and contemporary popular books. Much Ado Books in East Sussex, The Bookshop, in Liskeard, Cornwall, and Under The Greenwood Tree in London will be holding “Pimp My Bag” and “Book Art” creative sessions to engage customers with the BAMB launch.

Meanwhile, double “party” celebrations will take place at bookshops which are also marking a birthday, such as Regency Bookshop, which will celebrate 51 years in bookselling, Kirkdale Bookshops in Sydenham which will mark its 47th year and the Bookcase in Lowdham, which will celebrate 17 years in business.

The Bookshop Band has written a song especially to mark the campaign, which has been devised by advertising agency M & C Saatchi and is designed to celebrate physical bookshops and the high street. The band’s new track is entitled “A Shop with Books In” and mentions stores including Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights, Waterstones, Foyles and Edinburgh Books, among others (see below for video.) 

Godfray said: “Don’t be surprised if you wake up to a sea of orange that weekend. Orange book displays, iconic canvas bags, balloons, cakes and cocktails will be out in full swing as bookshops, authors, publishers and the public come together to celebrate the launch of Books Are My Bag.”

He added: “We hope that the local community, readers, shoppers and passers-by will join us in celebrating all that is good about our local bookshop.”

Author events which will specifically support the campaign include Jo Nesbø signing copies of his new book Police at Waterstones in Glasgow; Colin Duriez, author of biographies of C S Lewis and J R R Tolkien, giving a short talk before book signings at Cornerstone Books & Gifts in Cumbria; Duncan Barrett and Nuala Calvi, authors of the Sugar Girls and crime writer Barbara Nadel holding signings at Newham Bookshop in London; authors Joey Bull and Emiko Ray at a Chorleywood Bookshop signing; and children’s author Gillian Shields reading from her books for toddlers at Barnett’s Bookshop in Wadhurst.

Publishers supporting the campaign include Random House, Hachette, Penguin, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, Bloomsbury and the Faber Alliance among others. Random House is holding an internal “How Do You Wear Yours?” competition, asking staff to take a photo of themselves with the bag and send in a few words about their favourite bookshop, with winners receiving a £100 National Book Token gift.

Celebrities including chef Jamie Oliver and actors Bill Nighy and Damian Lewis have been revealed as among those supporting the BAMB campaign. Other notable figures lending their face to the nationwide initiative include Mariella Frostrup, Delia Smith and Chris O’Dowd. The well-known faces have all been photographed holding the bags for posters which booksellers can use in their stores. The identities of further celebrities backing the campaign will be revealed in the run-up to the launch.