I'm stuck at home with a cold and cough this year and can only remember how much I enjoyed National Poetry Day in the Southbank Centre last time. My thoughts have drifted to how I can enjoy National Poetry Day at home and also champion poetry.
Here's what I've come up with. Let's go and order the next poetry collection we want from our local bookshop. This not only costs less than paying the exorbitant postage charged by Amazon, it also gets poetry into the bookshops.
I've had a heartening response from bookshops recently, and notice that they often order a few copies of a book rather than just one. This doesn't only support the bookshop, it also results in a higher percentage going to the publisher and consequently also supports the authors. Online booksellers can ask for a discount of up to 60%, which is incredibly hard on publishers and their authors.
Added to that it's a real pleasure going into bookshops. If you want to join me today by going into a bookshop and ordering poetry then I'd love to hear feedback on how it was for you.... Did it feel good? Does your bookshop have a cafe, readings and events? Maybe a book club? I think it's time we got back to the bookshops, those of us who have got used to shopping online.
I have nothing against online booksellers. In fact I often complained about bookshops not stocking poetry and was delighted when Amazon and others appeared to make it easier to get the books I wanted. The internet also lets us order direct from publishers, or find the authors on Facebook to see if they'll send us a signed copy.
A casualty has been the high street bookshop and I find I have a sudden longing to do my shopping there. I've been in touch with bookshops since the first Ward Wood book by Sue Guiney was launched, and this has reminded me of all those enjoyable times browsing among actual shelves rather than webpages.
Waterstones and Daunt Books also surprised me by being so willing to talk and order books, and there were even bookshop managers at Sue Guiney's event. Bookshops also welcome signings and other events and don't charge - publishers and authors just take the wine along! So they're extremely important at a time when it's hard to meet costs for publishers specialising in non-mainstream forms.
If you order poetry (or anything else) from a bookshop, please give some feedback on how it went. And perhaps some tempting descriptions of those bookshops too....