It's Christmaaaaaaas!! 🎄
December is almost here and boy am I glad to see the back of this year. 2020 has put a lot of things into perspective, but more than anything it's reminded me of the healing power of reading and the importance of bookshops in our local communities.
In To Kill A Mockingbird, Scout Finch famously said, "Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing." And until lockdown I hadn't realised just how relevant this was to bookshops as well as books. Being unable to work in my store - to see my colleagues and friends and recommend books to customers - has been awful. Like everyone else in furlough limbo, I felt like my life had no structure, like I had lost my purpose. But what I missed more than anything was the safe haven that bookshops provide; the comforting smell of books and the quiet joy of browsing shelves and discovering new favourites. Like virtually every industry, bookshops have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and national lockdowns. For years bookshops have struggled to keep their heads above the water thanks to the disruptive trading practices of Amazon, and COVID has only accelerated their decline while bolstering Amazon's sales (fun fact: if Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos gave every Amazon worker a $105,000 pandemic bonus, he’d still be as rich as he was at the start of Coronavirus.) The sad truth is that unless we support our local bookstores right now, many won't make it to 2021. No more browsing the shelves and discovering those hidden gems. No more chatting with your local bookseller about the books you love and getting introduced to new favourites because they know your tastes to a tee. The closure of physical bookshops would be a travesty, but it can be prevented if we all make a conscious effort to shop local. That's why this Christmas I'm joining the thousands of voices asking people to #BuyBooksFromBookshops. Because by buying books from bookshops, you're not only supporting a local business, you're also supporting its community, paying the wages of its knowledgable booksellers (which no Amazon algorithm can match!) and sustaining authors' careers by paying a fair price for their books, meaning they're able to continue to write the books you love.
When it comes to supporting local and independent businesses, it can sometimes be difficult to know where to start. That's why I've put together an interactive Bookish Advent Calendar featuring 24 of the best books of 2020 - each with a link to a different independent bookshop. From children's picture books to feminist manifestos, there's something for everyone in this calendar so if you see a book you like, show an indie your support and make a purchase with them this Christmas. They'll really appreciate it and that money will go a lot further in their pockets than in Amazon's - trust me.
And in the spirit of Christmas (and because, let's face it, we could all do with a bit of escapism right now) I'm hosting a huge Christmas Giveaway (the biggest I've ever featured on the blog!) There's children's book bundles, a beautiful gift edition of Agatha Christie's Midwinter Murder, and some signed hardbacks - including a signed Margaret Atwood! There are eight giveaways in total and they're all free to take part in so do check them out and put your name down if there's something that takes your fancy.
You can also get two bonus entries into a giveaway of your choice if you make a purchase with any of the bookshops featured in the Bookish Advent Calendar. Here's a full list of the indies taking part:
All Good Bookshop (London)
The Bookish Type (Leeds)
The Book Case (Hebden Bridge)
The Book Nook (Hertfordshire)
Burley Fisher Books (London)
Forum Books (Corbridge)
Golden Hare Books (Edinburgh)
Gullivers Bookshop (Wimborne)
Gutter Books (Dublin)
Harbour Books (Whitstable)
Kenilworth Books (Warwickshire)
Lighthouse Bookshop (Edinburgh)
Nantwich Bookshop (Cheshire)
Newham Bookshop (London)
Paned o Gê (Cardiff)
The Portal Bookshop (York)
Red Lion Books (Colchester)
Stoke Newington Bookshop (London)
Tell Tales Books (Warrington)
To claim your bonus entries, simply email proof of purchase to firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know which giveaway you'd like to enter. (Don't worry, your emails will be kept secure and deleted as soon as the giveaways are over - promise!) I'll be hosting giveaways throughout December so make sure you check out the giveaway page here to find all the competition deadlines.
I hope you enjoy the Bookish Advent Calendar and the giveaways (it's taken a lot of blood, sweat and tears to make, let me tell you! 😓). And in the meantime, read lots of books, eat lots of food and enjoy this precious time with your loved ones. Stay safe and stay well ('tis the season to be jolly careful and all that), and let's all look forward to a brighter 2021... because let's face it, it can't get any worse.
And on that cheery note, Merry Christmas everyone!