Originally given the title Books Are My Bag, National Bookshop Day is a yearly event set up to take all that makes buying books on the high street special and spread that joy through social media and, of course, buying books. I’ve wanted to be able to head out and celebrate before this year, but never had the opportunity mostly due to working. When I realised I would be in Bath for this year’s festivities, I was ecstatic – if only because I wanted to get my hands on one of the BAMB bags (and some new books, of course).
It’s a fun festivity, one that provides a real sense of love and community amongst booklovers and the sellers. By getting people out of their homes and away from their laptops, National Bookshop Day hopes to bring back the love of just physically going out, browsing, chatting with people and discovering new books in a wonderful environment.
Internet purchasing has its advantages, and it’s difficult to argue the case against it when the convenience and, in many cases, prices are so good. But little do people realise the negative effects this purchasing habit has on things. I won’t get into the complexities and my negativity towards buying books on Amazon just now – it may get ranty – but there are many reasons why one should look away from the computer screen when it comes to book-buying, reasons that actually fully support the publishing industry, right down to the authors who write the books in the first place.
What National Bookshop Day does is remind people that high street bookshops exist and that they are places you should go if you love books. Inside, not only do you get that wonderful, new book smell, but you have time to wander through bookshelves, browse books in a way that websites can’t offer you. And sure, you can click buttons to get a recommended reading list and reviews, but what about an actual conversation with someone who loves books as much as you do? Maybe they’ve got some great reads you’ve never heard of that you might like. Or maybe their favourite book is your favourite book too.
On my bookshop tour, I was able to chat away with booksellers about new releases, amazing authors, and even managed to sign up to a reading group that meets to chat SciFi and Fantasy. And it really did feel special, it always feels special; walking into a bookshop, and a library too, gives that feeling that you are entering an important place, a place that holds thousands of worlds and possibilities and ideas. So many of these valued places are falling away in the wake of the internet, and it is an awful shame. It’s a shame, too, to lose the people who work there, people who have the knowledge and the understanding of books that helps not only the reader, but the publisher too. These guys know their stuff, and really are an integral part of the publishing chain that I think many people forget about now we are in an age of click and receive. If publishing houses are the gateways to acquisition, it is bookshops who are the gateways to distribution. Think on that when you next purchase that perfect paperback…
I can’t express the thrill of knowing I get to go to a bookshop, I get to go off and buy books today. And when there’s a celebration, a chance to be a part of the community, a real buzz in the air to accompany it, it’s a perfect day.
So what’s your favourite bookshop? Did you buy any books to celebrate National Bookshop Day?
Image: ©J A Vennall