Besides music, my other big passion is reading books. In this day and age, a click of a few buttons is all it takes to procure your next digital book fix. Whilst the rise of the Ebook initially seemed to spell disaster for many bookshops there has been a big resurgence in book purchasing which has been reflected in annual sales. The Publishers Association reported this year that the publishing industry had grown to £4.4bn and that “the UK’s love affair with the printed book is far from over as for the first time since the invention of the ebook, overall physical book sales increased while digital sales decreased.”
For me personally, the act of turning a page, the smell of paper, opening and closing a book can never be truly mimicked. Technology companies are continually striving to mimic analog ways and sell the benefits of carrying around 100 books in a portable format. The price of all this fast technology seems to be taking its toll on many as the trend to switch off devices and reclaim quality time rises. Even our two children, both very tech-savvy, prefer reading real books over an e-book. I’m not alone in the belief that a tangible book encourages a stronger engagement and results in a better comprehension and recall. In the same way that writing on paper (instead of a keyboard) also improves memory recollection (those revising for exams please note).
Alongside this book resurgence, there has naturally been a healthy growth in the support of independent bookshops. On BBC Radio 4’s Saturday Live last week (click here to download) they interviewed bookshop frequenter Erica Jones whose nationwide tour of bookshops is captured through her engaging blog The Bookshop Around the Corner. Erica visits independent bookshops all over the country where she purchases a book in each (I’m jealous) and reminds us all of the delights of face-to-face book buying (the bookseller engagement with customers is just as key to a bookshop’s success). During the program, they ventured into the inventiveness of some of these shops and The Big Comfy Bookshop got a worthy mention which Erica wrote about here. They also mentioned the Big Comfy Sessions which take place at the shop (www.thebigcomfybookshop.co.uk/folk-club) which Rob Bridge (who also writes and photographs great interviews for Folk Radio UK) films for.
Another worthy mention was The Bookshop Band (currently Beth Porter and Ben Please) who combine the passion of music and books by writing songs inspired by them and then playing them in bookshops. That definition seems far too simplistic for the planning and effort that goes on behind what they do, something that’s more akin to a movement to support a love of books and bookshops. They even have their own newspaper which includes lyrics and book recommendations.
They are currently preparing for the spooky season – below you can hear Thirteen Chairs (our Song of the Day), taken from their new album That Ghost Belongs to Me:
That Ghost Belongs To Me is the spooky album of the new series, inspired by ghostly tales and dark goings on in the literary underworld. It features Joanne Harris on flute and bass, artwork by author Dave Shelton, percussion from author Jack Wolf and a musical reading from ManBooker Prize winner Ben Okri, as well as three songs inspired by Kate Mosse’s collection of ghostly tales The Mistletoe Bride.
The books that inspired the album were all chosen by Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights. the band’s local independent bookshop, with the songs performed for the first time in front of the author when they came to do an event.
The Bookshop Band are releasing a new album every month as part of a series of 10 new book-inspired albums and will be touring throughout 2016 to support them.
The album will be available on iTunes, Bandcamp and CD, and the launch will be upstairs at the flagship Foyles shop (Charing Cross Road, London) on 19th October with special guests.
Support your local bookshop.