Over 300 UK authors have united and signed up to the national initiative and social media campaign #SignForOurBookshops including Matt Haig, Malorie Blackman, David Nicholls, Dolly Alderton, Michael Rosen and hundreds more, an initiative which aims to encourage people to buy from local high street bookshops.
After and during the first lockdown, many local shops, including bookshops, have struggled to stay up and running, working incredibly hard in order to stay open by taking orders online and over the phone, supplying books to match the surge in reading that the first lockdown saw.
The initiative was created by novelist Holly Bourne as a response to the second lockdown in England in order to encourage readers to buy from their local bookshops. Authors who have signed up to the initiative will provide participating bookshops and readers with signed, personalised bookplates. Bookplates are signed, sometimes illustrated, labels that readers can stick onto the front page or inside cover of a book, creating an individual personalised copy.
Support for local, independent shops and businesses is currently more important than ever, as well as the struggles businesses face during the lockdown, it will also be the build-up to Christmas, one of the most important and busiest sales periods for many businesses including bookshops. Christmas shoppers would be spending their time browsing through hundreds of shelves of beautiful books in bookshops and buying them as presents. Unfortunately, the joy of going into a bookshop, an important and exciting part of the literary experience, is no longer available to us. Hopefully, this initiative will incentivise and encourage customers and readers to make the conscious effort to buy from local shops rather than using online retailers such as Amazon.
Bourne, the creator of this initiative, has promised to send her bookplates to 50 people who buy her titles through a local bookshop during the lockdown and will also be giving 10 signed bookplates to bookshops. Other authors will be sending their signed, personalised bookplates to everyone who buys a copy of their book at a local bookshop, providing exclusive access to signed books sold only through bookshops.
Books are vital and crucial during a time like lockdown, they can provide meditative qualities, escapism as well as hope for the future. Bookshops have been declared as essential shops in other countries including Belgium, recognising the important role they play for individuals and their community. Author Matt Haig says that “independent real-world bookshops are essential beacons of joy, imagination and culture”. Supporting #SignForOurBookshops and local bookshops during lockdown is imperative if we hope they will survive lockdown and continue to provide and serve their community.
To find your local bookshops which are involved visit www.booksellers.org.uk/bookshopsearch or search for #SignForOurBookshops on Twitter to find all participating authors and more information about how to receive bookplates. Some bookshops will be selling books from their own online stores or over the phone. On the other hand, www.bookshop.org is a socially conscious alternative to Amazon and an exciting new site whose mission is to financially support local, independent bookshops, giving 10% commission on every sale and another 10% to independent bookshops. Additionally, www.hive.co.uk is another great online bookshop which gives money to your local independent bookshop when you buy from them.
Image Credit: The Guyliner