Model Lily Cole, journalist Jon Snow and "Britain's Got Talent" judge Amanda Holden were revealed as backers of the industry-wide Books Are My Bag campaign, at a media launch held at Foyles Charing Cross Road last night (9th September).
Those who attended the event along with high-profile figures from the bookselling and publishing industries included Rachel Johnson, politician Alan Johnson, and authors Sebastian Faulks, Francesca Simon and Kathy Lette.
Also lending support to Books Are My Bag are actors Robson Green and Lynda Bellingham, presenters Fern Britton and Mary Berry, glamour model turned author Katie Price, and journalists Andrew Marr and Jeremy Vine. Authors lining up to join the M&C Saatchi initiative to celebrate bookshops on the high street include Neil Gaiman, Sebastian Faulks, Kathy Lette, Marian Keyes, Jojo Moyes and Julia Donaldson, to name but a few. The high profile figures have been photographed and will appear on posters in bookshops up and down the country from Saturday (14th September), the campaign’s official launch.
Names revealed earlier include TV chef Jamie Oliver, actor Bill Nighy, Damian Lewis, Mariella Frostrup, Delia Smith and Chris O'Dowd.
Speaking at last night’s BAMB media launch, Booksellers Association chairman Patrick Neale spoke of his sadness that a third of bookshops had closed in the last 10 years. “I have been a bookseller for 15 years and I love my job,” he said. “I really love connecting customers to books that will excite and inspire them and hopefully change their lives. I am always positive in my shop and I always want to give my customers the best experience. Over the last 10 years, one third of our bookshops have closed. That is one bookshop a week for 10 years. That is pretty depressing.”
He added: “Does that matter? When asked 88% said ‘Yes’, it did matter. I really do believe that bookshops are the best place to shop for books and I hope this campaign will show the whole country that is the case.”
Maurice Saatchi, whose advertising agency has masterminded the campaign, spoke about the precious “serendipity” moments that occur in bookshops. “Why shop for a book in a bookshop? It is a very nice thing to be able to talk to a human being in a bookshop.” He added: “This campaign is nothing to do with humanitarian intervention, which we have been hearing a lot about recently. There is not going to be a UN solution to save a bookshop. Margaret Thatcher said ‘you cannot buck the market’ – if people do not want bookshops there won’t be any, simple as that. But we have heard that 88% people want to see bookshops that is more in polling terms than know who the prime minister of the country is.”
Penguin Random House chairman Gail Rebuck said: “Research shows that 70% of book buyers discover books in a physical environment.” She urged the press to write about the campaign to everyone in the room to “wear your bags with pride".
The Books Are My Bag campaign will launch this Saturday (14th September) with bookshops giving away striking orange BAMB bags and holding events across the country. The campaign has been devised by advertising agency M&C Saatchi in collaboration with publishers Random House, Hachette, Penguin, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, Bloomsbury and the Faber Alliance among others. Bookseller champions include Waterstones, W H Smith, Easons and independents such as Foyles, Jaffe & Neale and Mr B’s Emporium. Over a quarter of a million bags will be distributed from 14th September to Christmas at over 1,800 chain and independent bookshops from across the UK & Ireland.