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UK bookstores form Independent Bookshops Alliance

A group of around 130 independent booksellers in the UK have formed the Independent Bookshops Alliance to give independent bookstores a louder voice in the industry, reports the Big Issue.

The alliance will aim to ‘build a “social Amazon” capable of collectively bargaining with publishers, allowing the same access to tax breaks and exclusive editions enjoyed by retail big-hitters’.

The alliance was launched by Arts Council England CEO Darren Henley and John Bird, founder of the Big Issue and member of the House of Lords, at an event in Westminster on 29 March.

Also present was bookseller Simon Key, founder of Wood Green’s Big Green Bookshop, who originally proposed the idea for an alliance on his blog in January.

Speaking at the launch, Bird said, ‘To me, a town, village or city is empty without the power of a bookshop. The power to turn a high street into something that holds a vast social echo. That, through its increasing presence, will be full of readings, discussions, and (at times) nice cups of tea … That is why we have to fight for bookshops. Every last one is precious to us, our quality of our life, our literature, our public spaces and communities.’

Bird also linked the alliance with a larger campaign to promote libraries and literacy. ‘We must protect and proactively help these centres of social good. We must try and get communities to adopt them, for local authorities to see them as a plus in their boroughs and cities, for publishers to see them as equals. And we must link this fight to the battles to save our libraries and also to enhance schools’ campaigns to make more of our children literate,’ said Bird.

Arts Council England CEO Henley said, ‘Independent bookshops need to be given a louder voice and the same opportunities as retailers in the sector to sustain such a superb cultural offer … The Independent Bookshops Alliance will help bookshops find that voice.’


Category: International news