Long Live Bookshops!

Hooray for good book news! Apparently 3.7 million books were sold in the week from 12 April, as restrictions on the high street started to lift. That’s a 33% jump in sales. Long live bookshops!

The same was true last year as well – 2020 saw book sales hit an eight year high, with around 202 million books being sold across the year. Perhaps lockdown turned more of us onto reading, which is definitely a small, but welcome, silver lining to a difficult year.

Despite everyone being regularly convinced that books (and bookshops) are on the way out, the news this week suggests they’re very much alive and kicking.

When I first set up Bumblebee, I knew I wanted to work with independent publishers to offer subscribers really great reads that they may not easily come across themselves. I do the work hunting down the unusual, so that you don’t have to (and as it means I get to read tons of great books – it’s hardly a chore!)

I wrote more here about the first bunch of great indies that jumped aboard the flight of the Bumblebee when I first started – now there are even more to add to the list. Over the last few months I’ve added the excellently named Wacky Bee Books, Cicada Books, Valley Press based in Scarborough and Firefly Press, based in Cardiff to the Bumblebee family – and very lovely they are too.

The biggest pleasure of making these connections has been seeing the care and attention that goes into their books. Many have a particular niche which makes for more diverse reading – another thing I’ve written more about previously.

For similar reasons I love a mooch around an independent bookshop, rather than buying online or from the big chains. Having a good chat with a knowledgeable bookseller, who really knows their stock and can recommend things you’d never have looked at yourself, is the absolute dream. Plus there’s often a bit of quirk and whimsy to be found in indie bookshops – from hidden rooms, to comfy sofas, coffee, cake and cool décor: bookshops are definitely one of my favourite places to hang out.

So often there are added extras with independents – whether it’s recommendations, storytelling sessions, talks and events, gift wrapping, or just someone to compare notes on the last thing you read. Far better than a slightly bashed copy being flung through the letterbox / onto the doorstep /into a random recycling bin.

Don’t get me wrong – throughout lockdown, home delivery has been an absolute godsend, and delivery drivers, packers, pickers and posties are heroes – but more than ever, now is the time to support small indie businesses that give you more than just the book.

So with that in mind – I wanted to support excellent indie publisher Book Island’s #StandByIndies campaign. Regular Mini Bee subscribers might recognise Book Island as the publisher behind February’s beautiful book, Virginia Wolf.

The campaign that supports indie shops, sellers and stockists through pre-sales of READY, STEADY, SCHOOL!, their new bumper-size picture book by Marianne Dubuc for pre-schoolers.

The book looks great for wee ones – so if there’s a little one in your life heading to school in September – do take a look! Here’s how it works:

1)    From 20 April- 10 May, pre-order READY, STEADY, SCHOOL! from bookisland.co.uk with a limited-time discount and free sticker sheet
2)    NOMINATE any indie bookshop as your #IndieChampion and they will receive £4 from the sale of your new book
3)    Sometime in mid-June, pick up your book from the bookshop you nominated for free, or have it delivered for £3.20.

YOU get a discount, INDEPENDENTS get supported, and WE ALL bypass the online giants.

And – as if that wasn’t enough excellent book news for one day – here’s a little something extra from me:

For being part of the Bumblebee hive, you can use BEEHAPPY10 for 10% off any Bumblebee gift subscription.

Treat yourself or a friend to a 3, 6, or 12 month subscription. Perfect if you have Birthday gifts to buy for adults or children this month. You can simply let me know the date you’d  like it to be delivered in the checkout details, and I’ll do the rest.

I’d love to know what you love about bookshops too – you can leave me a comment below.

Happy reading!

With love and creativity,

Imogen at Bumblebee HQ xx


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Imogen Bond

Bumblebee’s chief book chooser, creative activity thinker-upper and all round busy bee 🐝
Imogen started out as a theatre director, mainly making productions for young audiences, as well as teaching creative workshops to all ages from primary schools to post grads!

The Liszts by Kyo Maclear
The Secret History by Donna Tartt

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