BookBlast Waterstones 10×10 Tour, it’s a wrap! News Archive

waterstones bookblast 10x10 tour poster books

The inaugural BookBlast Waterstones 10×10 Tour was wrapped up on a night of political disunity and meltdown as Brexit hit the road. So we were only too relieved to be hosting the concluding event of the 10×10 tour at WestBank Art & Music in Thorpe Close W10 under the Westway.

Influx Press, Istros Books, Saqi Books Lead the Discussion

Kit Caless from INFLUX PRESS led the discussion with Susan from ISTROS BOOKS and Elizabeth from SAQI BOOKS about how independent publishers play such an important role in the cultural ecosystem; translation, rigid mindsets and choosing to publish books written without market trends in mind; the importance of buying books directly from independent publishers’ websites; how best to access buyers at the major bookselling chains deciding on what and how much to purchase (tricky in some instances when there is just one fiction buyer for a whole chain!).

The audience of publishing consultants, book distributors, bloggers, indie film makers, readers and writers raised the issues of how Amazon goes after publisher profit margins with crippling consequences for the independents; and the lack of publicity in the Media which is ironic given the growing demand for eclectic, non-genre, unconventional writing of the kind that is supplied by the smaller publishers who are regularly winning prizes.

bookblast 10x10 tour final event westbank w10
Susan, Elizabeth and Kit lead the way . . .

Starting out from Gower Street in Bloomsbury WC1E, on 11 September, we have been all around the regions of England hosting a total of 10 weekly talks at Waterstones flagship stores showcasing the rich diversity of 10 small risk-taking indie publishers.

“Greetings! It was GREAT on Tuesday wasn’t it?” Mark, Events Team, Waterstones Gower Street.

The writers on tour were not only British but also from the Middle East, Europe, China, Africa and the Caribbean. We wanted to bring together readers and writers across England in the spirit of friendship and exchange.

Supporting diversity and inclusion isn’t just a “nice” thing to do: it fosters a sense of social wellbeing and cohesion; has a positive impact on the bottom line in the workplace; and is important given the need to be inclusive as opinions shift to the right.

Enthusiastic readers who attended the talks included young Muslim women in hijabs in Birmingham, Chinese students in Liverpool – one young man came to the talk all the way from Manchester – and, in Leeds, a group of special needs kids delighted to be invited into a bookshop and to be listened to. Many were not only there for entertainment, but wanted to be informed, or to connect with authors writing about their culture today.

bookblast waterstones tour birmingham event

Waterstones Birmingham. Theme: The Things I Would Tell You: British Muslim Women Write. With Elizabeth Briggs SAQI BOOKS chair, authors Nafeesa Hamid, Aliyah Holder

A re-occurring theme which emerged from the 10 tour talks was why it is that regional publishers are overlooked by the London-centric publishing community thereby missing out on discovering talent and new readers.

“Thanks again for including us on your tour, we had a fantastic evening! It was such an innovative set-up for an event here with the podcasting and all, I thought that you and we managed it all rather well! I look forward to seeing what your next project will be! Thanks again.” – Alex, Events Team, Waterstones Norwich

As well as partnering up with Waterstones for the talks, we  achieved giving independent publishers greater Media visibility by way of our National and Regional PR campaign orchestrated by Sue Amaradivakara from the PR Collective.  

“It was good to discover indie publishers I did not know about thanks to the bookblast 10×10 tour.” –  Catherine Fuller, Projects Manager at the Society of Authors

“It was a great evening, a great project, wonderfully run! Bravo!” Michael Schmidt OBE FRSL, General Editor, PN Review & Editorial and Managing Director, Carcanet Press Limited

Find out Why Independent Publishing Matters.

The discussion at WestBank Art & Music concluded with Kit, Elizabeth and Susan each flagging up a lead title to look out for in 2019:

INFLUX: Plastic Emotions about the first ever female Sri Lankan architect in the 1940s who had an affair with Le Corbusier.

BUY Plastic Emotions

SAQI: A collection of newly-discovered short stories by Naguib Mahfouz, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature 1988, “Through works rich in nuance – now clear-sightedly realistic, now evocatively ambiguous – he has formed an Arabian narrative art that applies to all mankind.”

BUY The Quarter

faruk sehic under pressure coverISTROS: Under Pressure by a Bosnian war veteran being published in Spring 2019 backed by a successful Kickstarter campaign.

“It is very interesting to hear about distribution and I feel fairly positive about the future of indie publishing . . . aside from what is happening in Parliament at this very moment . . . small publishers do interesting things culturally which is why we do what we do . . . we must not miss out mentioning the joy of publishing new writers and bringing voices to an audience.” – Kit Caless, Influx Press

BUY Under Pressure

The 10 tour talks are being podcasted by Ben Fiagbe, BookBlast’s business development & tech director, making them available for a global audience.

Keep an eye out for the 10×10 Tour podcasts on our Channels:

For iOS & Android users

Soundcloud | Spotify | Stitcher | Google | Podbean

For Apple & iPhone users

Apple Podcasts

We have loved getting away from the privileged publishing metropolitan ghetto and going on the road . . . so that’s all for now folks . . . see you again soon!

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About Georgia de Chamberet 377 Articles
Bilingual editor, rewriter, anthologist, French-to-English translator. Has written for 3am magazine, words without borders, The Independent, The Lady, Banipal, Prospect Magazine, Times Literary Supplement. Currently writes for The BookBlast Diary. Founder (1997) of London-based writing agency BookBlast.