You may have seen a lot of people tweeting about Books Are My Bag, a wonderful campaign that launched yesterday to encourage people to use bookshops, over the past week. It was actually one of my New Year’s Resolutions to visit more bookshops and I have also been blogging about them for A Tour of London Bookshops. Here was my reasoning, back in January:
I rarely go to bookshops and I find that really sad because it’s one of my favourite things to do. I know books tend to be cheaper online and I know it’s more convenient, but it’s just not as fun. I’m going to attempt to buy the majority of my books in actual bookshops and I’m hoping to combine this with the below resolution [to blog about bookshops]. I’ll also enjoy supporting many different business, rather than just Amazon and The Book Depository, although no doubt I’ll still use them throughout the year, especially as I own a Kindle.
It really is as simple as that. I have nothing against shopping online – I completely understand why people do it, especially overseas – and I read many eBooks, but I also love bookshops. And they won’t exist unless people use them. I’m happy to say that this year, I’ve bought more books from bookshops than online (including eBooks!) and I’ve had a lot of fun doing it.
Cait and I thought we’d head down to one of our favourite bookshops, Foyles, Charing Cross Road, for the launch of Books Are My Bag. Shops across the UK were holding Big Bookshop Parties and Foyles was one of them. I’ve had nothing but excellent experiences in Foyles – lovely (and helpful) booksellers, excellent cafe and the largest selection of young adult and children’s fiction in London. (And they also put Harry Potter in Science Fiction & Fantasy, which I know pleases many people!). I had a go at their free tombola and won 10% off my purchase while Cait won a Gold Ticket and took home a beautiful red notebook (jealous!).
I also bumped into the lovely people at Bloomsbury Children’s Books, who were dressed up as characters from Neil Gaiman’s latest book, Fortunately, the Milk. I had a picture taken with Professor Steg, but we’ll save that photo for another time ;).
I love browsing Foyles at the best of times, but it was especially enjoyable to see people win bookish prizes and get excited when given a Books Are My Bag tote (and I was also happy to see someone purchase Patrick Ness’ More Than This). I also noted that bookish people are a reserved lot! No one wanted to be first to have a go at the tombola or have their picture taken. Even if it is free!
Of course, the point of Books Are My Bag is to buy books from bookshops, so I picked up The Miseducation of Cameron Post, a young adult contemporary novel that has received a lot of praise from my fellow blogger friends: ‘a stunning and unforgettable literary début about discovering who you are and finding the courage to live life according to your own rules.’
Cait and I also had a little break at Ray’s Jazz Cafe at Foyles because everybody knows you cannot have books without cake (or in this case, a chocolate and caramel shortbread).
It was also encouraging to see so many people get involved with the campaign, to see so many people excited on Twitter (and #booksaremybag was trending), taking photos of the bookshops they visited and the books they bought. Hopefully it’s reminded people why bookshops are worth saving and what they need to do to save them.
Do you support Books Are My Bag? Let me know which bookshops you visited and what you bought there!
Visit booksaremybag.com (or follow @booksaremybag) to find out more about the campaign. If you’re unable to visit bookshops, but would love to support them, I’d suggest using Hive, which donates a percentage of every sale to a bookshop (of your choice or your nearest).