No matter what computer-seduced cynics might say, there are plenty more chapters still left to be written in the life story of the bookshop - if a new campaign gets its way. Books Are My Bag launches next week in an attempt to get readers back into bookshops amid challenges from electronic competitors such as Amazon’s Kindle.
Campaigners say there's nothing quite like the aesthetic feel of a real-life paperback or hardback in your hands. This notion has been supported by a poll of 2,000 travellers released by Heathrow Airport this week. It revealed that the sublime sensation of holding and thumbing through a real book is the leading reason that 71% of holidaymakers said they would pack one over a slimmer, electronic version.
But how do we get everyone, not just travellers, to go through bookshops' doors again?
New research commissioned by the Booksellers Association suggests that the problem is at least acknowledged among British book buyers. Nearly nine in 10 (88%) of them are worried that there are fewer high street bookshops than five years ago, it found. Over nine out of 10 (91.7%) think action needs to be taken to support high-street sellers, while 77% believe bookshops make town centres more appealing.
A groundswell of supportive sentiments, however, hasn't prevented the amount of independent bookshops in Britain plummeting 33% in four years from 1,535 in 2008 to just 1,028 in 2012.
The Books Are My Bag initiative is a collaboration between publishers, bookshops, authors and agents that also aims to show how they can help nurture new talent and inspire people to read. A Big Bookshop Party launches the M&C Saatchi-devised campaign on Saturday, September 14 with Waterstones, WH Smith, Blackwells, John Smith, Foyles, Easons, and hundreds of independent bookshops participating.
Over 250,000 canvas Books Are My Bag bags will be distributed in the next three months by over 1,800 chain and independent bookshops across the UK & Ireland. It is hoped that this promise alone will tempt readers away from their keyboards and back into the glorious world of real books and shops. The campaign has recruited about 100 high-profile UK and international authors, broadcasters, models, sports stars, actors, politicians, chefs, journalists and comedians to lend their image to the campaign. These include chef Jamie Oliver, actor Bill Nighy and presenter Mariella Frostrup.
They will all be photographed with the iconic canvas bag which has been designed as the cornerstone of the movement.
Horrid Henry's “mother”, children’s author and journalist Francesca Simon says bookshops are like libraries in that they are the closest thing we get to a magic kingdom on Earth. She said: “They're a world of treats waiting to be devoured.”
It's not too late and there is still a tangible base to build upon. Books are always our bag at Cass Art. We've selected the top 3 books that you cannot only read and enjoy but draw in too...
(Pictured far left): My Wonderful World of Fashion by Nina Chakrabarti.
A brilliant interactive colouring in book by a leading fashion illustrator Nina Chakrabarti. 272 pages of her drawings for you to finish off as well as fashion ideas for you to try yourself. The book also takes a look at vintage fashion, for a blast from the past.
(Centre): The Art of Urban Sketching by Gabriel Campanario
This illustrated volume consists of over 700 drawings by Gabriel Campanario of more than 50 cities in 30 countries. It is also an instruction book for those wanting to seek inspiration for their own dabbling in urban sketching.
(Pictured right): An Artist's Handbook by Margaret Krug
A Cass Art-own handbook for practical guidance you can refer back to again and again. Margaret Krug explains basic materials and techniques for drawing and painting, with over 400 images and highlighting the techniques used in both historical and contemporary art.
The Books Are My Bag campaign has a dedicated Facebook page and there will also be a Make Your Mark competition, where readers can vote for their favourite bookshop and put themselves in with a chance of winning prizes, including bookmarks and £100 worth of book tokens. Browse the full selection of books available at Cass Art in your nearest store or a selection on our new website.