From Library Girl and Book Boy: Support Independent and BAME Bookstores- How You Can Help!
It was chatting to Karim and the team from Tiny Owl at the CLiPPA awards which gave me the inspiration for this blog post. There they were, a small award-winning independent publisher with a fantastic and diverse catalogue of titles, yet they still found it very difficult to get their books into the larger retailers. Why was this? Would winning a national poetry award for their title ‘Thinker: My Puppy Poet and Me,’ by Eloise Greenfield, illustrated by Ehsan Abdollahi change things? They weren’t so sure.
I was interested to know what barriers there were to the smaller publishers and what we (the book-buying public) and them (as the publishers) could do to try and change this. The response was very interesting….
Support Independent and BAME Bookstores- How You Can Help!
Let’s start with the perspective of Karim at Tiny Owl:
There’s a real desire amongst reader for high quality diverse and inclusive children’s books, but if you go into a big high street retailer, they’re very difficult to find. Larger bookshops often have an unconscious bias against diverse books.
They see them as financially risky, so don’t put them in a prominent place where customers can find them easily, if they stock them at all. Tiny Owl started our campaign ‘Diversity Now!’ to address this issue. If you want to see diverse books represented in shops, the best way to help is to go in and request them.
When retailers recognise the demand, they’ll start to give these books the attention they deserve. You can also shout out on social media about diverse books you love to help spread the word!
From Katrina Gutierrez, Head of Communications:
Small publishers have found it difficult to break into big retail chains because they have a commercial and promotional preference towards the mainstream houses. As a small publisher whose catalogue mostly consists of books by BAME authors and illustrators where children of colour are the stars, we have an extra hurdle to clear. Diverse books are still considered “niche” by many big retailers because they still do not believe there is a demand for books like ours.
Independent bookshops and libraries have led the way in championing a diverse bookshelf. But it seems that the only way for small publishers to make it onto the bookshelves of big retailers is if customers demand it from them. So we need you to be our heroes. Go to your favourite big bookshop and request for diverse titles from your favourite small publisher.Tell your friends, family – everyone! – to ask for these books, too. Do it over and over again. And maybe one day your favourite big retailer won’t even think twice about stocking books from small publishers. For this miracle, and for everything you do for small publishers, the Lantana team gives our thanks.