As Book Week Scotland opens, booksellers and librarians across the UK are in a state of, well… flux! Bookshops and libraries in England remain closed due to Covid-19 restrictions. In Scotland, although under a Tiered restriction system, local bookshops are open but book-buyers remain nervous. In Wales they have now re-opened after a Firebreak closure. If it all makes your head spin then spare a thought for those retailers with outlets in all areas of the UK and the very difficult business decisions they face – Waterstones, Blackwell, Topping and more.
Readers, writers and publishers are keen to support their local booksellers and do so in person when they are open or through click and collect or online orders when their doors are closed. Booksellers are working hard behind the scenes to continue their recommendations for readers and supply in all ways safe and possible. Bookshop.org has opened with a flourish and although an online retailer, pays a percentage of each sale on to local bricks-and-mortar booksellers. Writers have gathered their collective strength to write to the Prime Minister and ask that he reconsider and classify books as essential product – for the mental health and happiness of the nation – which would allow libraries and all bookshops to remain open.
Earlier this year, Alexander McCall Smith wrote a moving and uplifting poem in praise of bookshops. You can hear him read it here. Listen, and as you do so, think of booksellers everywhere – we will never take you for granted again!
Alexander McCall Smith will take part in a virtual event with the Malt Whisky Trail as part of Book Week Scotland. More details here.