So here’s the thing. A few years ago—a fair few more than I’d care to admit right now—I learnt about Books Are My Bag thanks to boss booktuber Leena Norms. This year, I can finally participate. I’m excited. And I want you to get excited too, so here’s a quick overview of it all.
What’s ‘Books Are My Bag’ about?
Once upon a time (2013 to be precise) the Booksellers Association created a clever campaign to celebrate magical places all over the UK. These places are your friendly neighbourhood bookshops. It’s all about supporting your local booksellers and appreciating every aspect of the book. From the beautiful cover art in front of you to delightful window displays, writers, editors, printer, marketers, and passionate booksellers—we’re here to celebrate it all, with each bookshop serving as a little private party just for you. TL;DR: it’s all about encouraging people to buy books in physical bookshops. Sounds good, right? Right.
With online retailers effectively taking the rug out from under brick-and-mortar shops, the overall aim of the campaign is to encourage readers all over the country to buy books locally. By doing that you’ll be feeding your (arguably healthy) addiction to books while supporting local businesses and helping to create jobs.
Oh, and your chances of stumbling upon a title you’ve never even heard of increase dramatically when you shop the old-fashioned way. Amazon can make all the (paid) suggestions it likes—nothing beats a real-life recommendation from someone who really loves books, or being drawn to a stunning cover in a genre that you might not have considered otherwise. BAMB is made up of a couple of ‘smaller’ events:
- The BAMB Readers Awards, where you can vote for your favourite fresh-pressed reads of the year, and nominate something for the Readers’ Choice Award (anything, be it newly published or classic).
- Bookshop Day (5th October 2019), a day for you to go out, explore bookshops, and do some guilt-free book shopping.
- Independent Bookshop Week: this week of bookbug fun is made up of fabulous things like book crawls, author signings, reading groups, storytelling sessions, literary lunches and the like. Each shop does its own thing!
- Save the date: Independent Bookshop Week 2020 = 20 – 27 June.
Bookshops in Newcastle upon Tyne
I’ve been living in Newcastle for over two years now, but I’ve got to admit that finding indie bookshops to put on this list was a bit of a struggle. If you know any, leave a comment – I’d love to build up a list of bookshops big and small to share with you guys. Anyway, here’s where you can go to celebrate #BookshopDay this Saturday and enjoy some bookish self-indulgence:
- Books for Amnesty
- Forbidden Planet (a haven for the graphic novel and comic book lovers among us)
- Seven Stories (specialising in children’s books, perfect for getting the kids involved!)
- NewBridge Books (technically Gateshead but I’m super excited about this one so it’s staying)
Independent Bookshops in North East England
There are a few more bookshops I wanted to mention based on my own experience and my friends’ recommendations. They’re just a metro or train ride away, so I thought I’d pop them in here and add to the list as they come:
- Barter Books (Alnwick)
- The People’s Bookshop (Durham)
- Keel Row Books (North Shields)
- Cogito Books (Hexham)
- Castle Hill Books (Richmond, North Yorkshire)
- Drake the Bookshop (Stockton-on-Tees)
- White Rose Book Cafe (Thirsk, North Yorkshire)
- The Little Ripon Bookshop (Ripon, North Yorkshire)
So that’s that. Books are my bag. They very much are. Follow my shenanigans on Instagram, and let me know if you’ve got any bookshops you think should be on my list! My bank balance won’t thank you, but I definitely will.