Books

Robert Webb and Marian Keyes join independent bookstores lockdown initiative

Four indie bookstores have joined forces to support booksellers during the coronavirus pandemic

Robert Webb

Four independent booksellers have taken action to find alternative ways to support their industry through the challenges of coronavirus — with the support of some of the publishing world’s biggest names.

Indie bookstores Linghams in Heswall, Merseyside, Booka Bookshop in Oswestery, Shropshire, Book-ish in Crickhowell, Powys, and Forum Books in Corbridge, Northumberland are working in collaboration with authors, publishers and fellow indies across the UK to host a series of live author events during lockdown.

The ‘At Home With’ initiative will see a host of authors take part in Facebook Live events, allowing readers to engage with authors from the comfort — and safety — of their own homes.

The series of live events kicked off on Monday April 20 with ‘At Home with Jack Monroe’. The food writer and activist dialled in from her home office to “give a little love” to independent bookstores and answer questions from fans.

Other famous faces in the line-up include comedian, actor and writer Robert Webb, whose 2017 book How Not To Be Boy — which dealt with issues of masculinity and growing up in working class Lincolnshire — was hailed as “enormously poignant” on its release.

Webb dialled in from his home office to answer questions about his first work of fiction, Come Again, and to remind people that indie bookstores are still taking orders during these challenging times.

Marian Keyes, one of Ireland’s most successful novelists, is also taking part. Keyes gave the royalties from her book Under the Duvet to the Simon Community, a charity that works with people who experience homelessness and housing exclusion in Ireland.

MORE: Read Robert Webb’s Letter To My Younger Self from The Big Issue

The #1 New York Times bestselling author David Baldacci, journalist and broadcaster Pete Paphides and children’s author Frank Cottrell Boyce will also take part.

Sue Porter from Linghams said that pooling the indie bookstores’ resources and skills was “a great opportunity to do something positive in these uncertain times.”

She told The Bookseller: “All booksellers will be hit dramatically by the coronavirus outbreak and this is one way that we can continue to deliver our events programme whilst also combating the social isolation that many people may feel during the next weeks and months.”

To see the full line-up, visit the At Home With Facebook page.

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