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Indies are the Way Forward

Seven Moons of Maali Almeida

Indies are the Way Forward

HUGE congratulations to Shehan Karunatilaka who was crowned this year’s winner of The Booker Prize for his novel The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida, and what a gorgeous jacket his book has too.


It is not only congratulations for the author, but also his publisher, Sort of Books, who Karunatilaka said in his acceptance speech took a chance on him when other presses wouldn’’t. This is why we need to support our independent presses because in a world when we see the same names at the top of bestseller lists week in, week out, doing the same (and a very fine job of it because it has worked so well the time before), it will increasingly fall to the indie presses to give less commerical voices a chance to sing.

We are seeing more and more independent presses on prize shortlists, and I hope that the big publishers take note of this, that they are brave in what they commission, and from whom.

I must also make mention of Ruth Killick – as Karunatilaka did in his speech – she certainly did a fantastic job on his PR! Ruth worked on the publicity of my novel, The Imposter, though sadly, I didn’t make it to a Booker prize list (I can dream).

But what this win tells us is that people are turning away from homogeneous products, and they are turning back to creativity. In the same way, I hope they are turning away from big corps, and are turning back to community. Or at least that is the hope in my new venture to open a bookstore.

I’ve been meaning to write and explain to you, why me, why now? It does seem slightly foolish to try to start a new venture in these troubling times, but if the last two years have taught us anything, surely they have reminded us of the importance of human connection, be that through the pages of a book or your local bookshop. Yes, within a few clicks we can arrange for a book to be delivered through our letterbox, but then we miss the experience of walking out, of stepping into a bookshop, of smelling the books, of seeing the gorgeous covers, of having the seller press a book into our hands that we hadn’t previously considered. All that is surely worth the extra two or three pounds you might have to pay for the privilege?

I know when I go into big corp bookstores I feel so overwhelmed by the rows and rows of shelves that I don’t know where to start – and I am a writer. How much better would it be to get to know your local independent bookshop keeper, for them to know what you enjoyed last time, what you might enjoy next time, or persuade you to take a chance on a book you might not have done ordinarily? Just like Sort of Books did when it published this now Booker Prize winner.

I plan to stock lots of independent press books in my shop, little gems that you might not find ordinarily in other book stores. I’d love to know your favourite indie press finds.

For now, congratulations again to Shehan Karunatilaka and to Sort of Books!

More news on the progress I’m making with The Book Room soon…

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