This week is Independent Bookshop Week. It started on June 18th and runs until June 25th, and is a campaign run by the Bookseller’s Association to celebrate “independent bookshops in the UK highlighting the vital role independent bookshops play in their communities.”
The BA do some great things and I love #IndieBookshopWeek. It’s a joy seeing bookshops being celebrated and I love seeing all the posts on social media. Independent bookshops are special and from author events and drop in story hours, to friendly chats and a space to feel safe and welcome, we work so hard to offer our communities something really special. We may not be able to offer the same prices as supermarkets and certain online giants, but we offer you warm smiles, personalised recommendations, and an experience that you won’t get from an algorithm.
This is why it is so frustrating during Independent Bookshop Week to see so many publishers continuing to promote Amaz*n as the place to buy books. This weekend, one of the big five publishers tweeted a post in celebration of independent bookshops. However, when the tweet immediately following is linking Amaz*n, it becomes difficult to see their celebration as anything more than lip service. If they really wanted to show their support for Independent Bookshop Week, they would refrain from linking to Amaz*n for the week.
One week a year. One week in fifty-two where they could link to independent bookshops instead of Amaz*n.
I get it. The bulk sales are often going to come from Amaz*n and books need to be sold. Without book sales, we don’t have books being published and wonderful authors and illustrators to celebrate. But independent bookshops love books. We’ll build lovely window displays. We’ll press books into the hands of customers and talk enthusiastically. Sometimes, customers won’t even buy the book from us, but go and buy it from Amaz*n or the supermarket because it’s cheaper. I understand that too; we all have different budgets and things are really tough for people. But the fact remains that we are the ones who have celebrated and championed the books.
Publishers, show us your support, don’t just say the words. For Independent Bookshop Week 2023, please commit to linking to websites such as Bookshop.org, the Hive, or even the BA directory of bookshops, instead of linking to Amaz*n. They can survive not being linked to for a week.