Vintage has launched a new partnership with the Free Books Campaign, a charity set up by education activist Sofia Akel to get books by authors of colour to those who cannot access them.
Under the partnership, Vintage will donate 300 books to the Free Books Campaign annually. Twenty-five copies of 12 titles will be delivered over 2021, starting with Eddie S Glaude Jr’s Begin Again and Ibram X Kendi and Keisha N Blain’s Four Hundred Souls, as well as more books from Rukmini Iyer, Haruki Murakami, Sunjeev Sahota and other authors across its imprints.
The charity helps address the barriers to reading and stories and reaches both adults and children with specific community-curated book lists. It has also launched a new fundraising drive with the goal of raising £10,000 to ensure it can run for the whole year, and to expand into helping more schools and organisations around the UK.
Akel said: “Books can help us understand our place in the world. As a child, I would frequent my local library and get lost in some beautiful texts for days at a time. I know that without this, my future would have looked very different. However, with so many libraries closing around the UK – almost 800 in the past few decades – access to books can become increasingly difficult."
She added: “For years, authors of colour have been writing extremely important texts that bring light to our ‘hidden’ histories and experiences. However, the education system continually fails to recognise the importance of these books and by extension, our voices. Access to books is important for many reasons and the power of books cannot be undermined. Therefore, I am fundraising in response to the changing socio-political and economic landscape of Britain, whereby race equality and access to education remain as vital as ever. Through the Free Books Campaign, we hope to make a positive impact and play our part in eliminating these inequalities.”
Vintage's partnership with the campaign has been led in-house by Mireille Harper, editor at Square Peg. She said: “I came across the Free Books Campaign in the summer of 2020, and I thought it was a brilliant initiative. With austerity measures resulting in numerous closures of libraries and community centres, as well as the Covid-19 pandemic making it harder for those facing socioeconomic barriers to gain access to books, I felt it was important that we, at Vintage, respond to this crisis.
“Seeing the demand for books by authors of colour from those who couldn’t access them, Sofia, myself and many others within Vintage have worked together to develop a long-term and sustainable partnership, with Vintage supporting by offering our books, time and resources to support Free Books Campaign and its growth. It has been great to see all the departments come together to support such an important organisation, and I look forward to seeing other publishers support in turn.”
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