Chloe Coles' letter to indie booksellers for IBW 2018

22/06/2018

Chloe Coles' letter to indie booksellers for IBW 2018

 





Happy Independent Bookshop Week to my fellow booksellers across the land! Yes, it’s that time of year. You know exactly what to expect; the hashtags, the brown envelopes filled with promo material, the free book marks and tote bags. Hey, there might even be stickers... There will probably be a few articles telling us that ‘bookshops are making a comeback’ or that ‘bookselling is a dying industry.’ It’s always one or the other, and yet here you are, stood at your counter, sipping coffee from your trusty flask, as the shelving and stickering and returns pile up around you.
Bookshop Girl
 
While the pressure to stay afloat and survive on struggling high streets is very real, as booksellers, you and I know that bookshops are about much more than making money and selling books. They're about the people inside them.
 
Bookshops are about the children counting pocket money and birthday book tokens while their parents hover, reminding them to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ at the right time. They're about rough sleepers, coming into the warmth to sit on a chair and read in peace, in a place where they won’t be disturbed or asked to leave for not buying anything. Bookshops are about debut authors, seeing their own novel on the shelf for the first time, picking it up in their hands, unable to believe that ‘it’s real!’ they’re about grandads describing the layout of the same shop fifty years ago. Bookshops about finding buried treasure, making unexpected and unlikely friends.
Bookshop Girl
 
Most of all bookshops are about you, the people giving recommendations for holiday reads and hospital visits, christenings and birthdays and farewells. Breakups and bereavements and starting school. Student cookbooks and best man speeches and what to expect when you’re expecting. Tracing family trees and building tropical fish tanks and even knitting with cat hair.
 
While I spent a long time thinking bookshops were The Place to escape from the outside world, I’ve come to learn that bookshops can also be very REAL. The connections you make with other book people can be profound. As a bookseller, you’ll know as well as I do that the stories told on the shop floor inside bookshops go way beyond the billions of words printed inside paperbacks on the shelves.
 
Bookshop Girl

With more and more libraries closing up and down the country, it is crucial that Indie Bookshops remain on our high streets, putting stories into the hands of those who want and need them. Independent Bookshop Week is about celebrating you and the fact that the hours you put in, the flasks of coffee you slurp, the trolleys of books you push and wheel and shelve, mean something to the people around you.
 
Happy Independent Bookshop Week. It’s that time of year. It’s your time of year.

Bookshop Girl by Chloe Coles (Hot Key Books) is out now and available from indie bookshops