It’s November – remember, remember – and the next lockdown has started in England. Not that it’s too draconian a lockdown, with schools and colleges continuing to function, as well as manufacturing industry and construction. Restaurants and other shops are allowed to open for takeaway only. This includes book shops and my local independent, Clapham Books (logo left), remains open for collection of orders, though not for browsing ( additional copies of Plague were delivered to them this morning, to replenish stocks ).
November is one of the busiest periods in the year for the book buying public, with Christmas close on the horizon and this is when book shops make a good proportion of their annual sales. This year many are struggling with the second lockdown, even if it isn’t as tight as the first one. So the estimable Holly Bourne, writer of YA fiction, has joined with Chris Riddell, political cartoonist for the Observer newspaper and author, to launch #SignforourBookshops an initiative designed to encourage people to buy books via their local book shop rather than through the corporate giants.
Authors (including me) agree to provide signed templates, designed by Chris Riddell, to their local book shop to paste inside that author’s books when they are sold. They also agree to post signed templates, with a message of the reader’s choice, to folk who email proof of purchase of a work by that author from an independent, physical book shop. I have set up the email account email@example.com specifically for this purpose. So if anyone reading this piece buys one of my books from an independent book shop, email me with proof of purchase, your address and chosen message and I’ll sign and supply a template (UK only I’m afraid, the cost of postage prohibits going international ). It is to be hoped that this nudges folk towards buying at their local independent, or even high street but physical, book shop. Mr Besos has a large enough fortune already and many of our small independents run on a shoestring. The initiative runs until the end of lockdown or 2nd December, whichever is later.
November also sees the recent launch of bookshop.org another attempt to challenge the overwhelming power of the big virtual sellers, which was reported upon in The Guardian newspaper and others. My publishers, Claret Press and Plague can be found thereon, as can I, under my old pen name J J Anderson, for my Al Andalus books and The Village.
Another excellent authorial initiative, one which I missed, is the Children in Need Book Auction. There are hundreds of books, of all types and genres, signed and donated by their authors ( some of them very famous indeed ). About £14,000 has already been raised already and the auction runs until next Friday, 13th November.
Also in November I’ll be chatting about Plague with Caroline Maston of the UK Crime Book Club, on Facebook at 7 p.m. on Sunday 29th November. This is in conjunction with a giveaway of a dozen signed pre-publication copies of Plague ( I still have some, thanks to Claret Press ). In return I ask that readers post a review on Goodreads, Amazon and/or social media. I hope that we get a good conversation going with UKCBC members. You can find more details and a link on the Events page of this website.
Then, of course, there’s always the writing. Oracle is with Claret Press at the moment so I’m taking the opportunity to think about the next book, Opera. I like this phase of a book, it’s so full of possibilities. In this one Cassandra returns to London, where she meets with some old friends. Of this, more later…
You can find the UK Crime Book Club on Facebook HERE