Guest Post: The Importance of Reading Indie

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As regular readers will know, I am a big fan of the independent presses. When I spotted this latest venture being set up by Bex of NinjaBookSwap fame I was eager to help spread the word. Please welcome to my blog a lovely lady who works tirelessly to introduce readers to each other and to quality books. I know she would welcome your support for her latest project, and to add you to her list of recipients of the Ninja Book Box when it launches in November.   

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Hello I’m Bex, I blog over at An Armchair By The Sea and run the Ninja Book Swap, the Parcels of Joy Project and organise the annual London Bookshop Crawl. I’m here today talking about my love of independent publishers and how it led to the creation of my newest project.

I was brought up around independent bookshops. My family are readers and my parents taught me to treasure and support local businesses. Our visits to our local bookshops (two fantastic ones both now sadly no more, although one has been reincarnated) were regular traditions – something to be celebrated. I have as much of a soft spot for Waterstone’s as anyone else, but I’ve never had the same browsing experience there that I do in indies, where you can see that the booksellers have often had free reign with their recommendations and imagination for the creation of events and displays. It was this love of independent bookshops which nurtured the thrill of discovery of new books and authors that initially led to the creation of my blog and ultimately of Ninja Book Box.

Since the beginning of the year I’ve been challenging myself to buy only books published by independent publishers and I’ve found it hard. With a few exceptions I’m becoming increasingly aware that the books that I’m most aware of due to blogger hype, Waterstone’s windows and other advertising, and which subsequently end up on my wishlist are almost always published by big publishers, with the exception of books that get listed for or win big prizes. It can be really difficult to find indies by accident, and even looking I struggled, but the struggle was worth it because I’ve read so many excellent books this year.

One of my favourite things about small presses is that they often have a very specific aim or ethos, for example to publish translated fiction, excellent non-fiction or to engage readers with the process of publishing, and focusing on these niches can be a really good way to find things you wouldn’t normally consider.

I get the same thrill now when I discover a new publisher as I get when I visit an independent bookshop. Of course there’s the excellent anticipation of new things regardless of whether the place is indie or not, but in independents (publishers or bookshops) I always feel like I’ll find more unusual stuff. Chain bookshops can often feel a bit formulaic, with the same books on the tables and similar displays in every branch. I love independent bookshops because they’re free to do their own thing, create their own atmosphere and go the extra mile, and I love independent publishers for many of the same reasons.

The struggle to find books published by indies in mainstream bookshops whilst actively searching for them led me to wonder just how many people not actively searching were missing out, so I did what I do and asked twitter what it thought of a UK based book box featuring only titles published by independents. The answer was overwhelmingly positive, and here we are!

Ninja Book Box fills a gap, particularly for those of us here in the UK. Although there are lots of one book a month type subscriptions here, Ninja Book box will offer a simple way to discover lots of different independent publishers, new or backlist books in many genres and lots of extras as well as gift items, to enhance the reading experience. I will be working closely with publishers to get recommendations of excellent, underrated titles and with small businesses to create and provide gifts linked to the book. We are going for useful gifts as well as just cool or beautiful stuff so expect things to be a little out of the ordinary!

I have so many plans for the future of the box and have been working really hard to bring the November box together. I launched a Kickstarter to help fund the startup costs and its success has given me so much more confidence that this idea is as good as I think it is! The Kickstarter runs until October 2nd so if you’d like more information on the box please do go and check it out. Due to popularity it’s also the only way you can get hold of the first box, other than the giveaway below!

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If you would like to support Bex, details of her Kickstarter may be found here:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/241420299/the-ninja-book-box

You may wish to follow on Twitter: Ninja Book Box (@NinjaBookBox)

If you would like to enter the giveaway to receive the first box you may do so here: 

a Rafflecopter giveaway  

The giveaway is open internationally and people who’ve backed the Kickstarter can also enter – if they win and are already receiving a box as a reward for backing then they can either get a second box for someone else or redeem the February box for free.

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This post is a stop on the Ninja Book Box blog tour. Do check out the other stops, listed below.

 

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