Shop indie, shop often!

Spring is here! Hooray! The days are getting longer and warmer. Best of all, we’re into April, the magic month when bookshops are set, fingers crossed, to reopen for face-to-face shopping. Think of it, actually buying a book from a real human being!

As an indie-published author (published by Unbound), I’m a big enthusiast for indie bookshops. Their individual quirkiness and friendly knowledgeability beat shopping online hands down. Of course, Note to Boy is available from the big bookshop chains and the usual mega online channels but I’d love it if every indie bookseller in the land were to stock copies too. That’s impossible, I know. But that hasn’t stopped me doing my best!

During lockdown, I’ve been on a mission. In good time for the reopening of so-called ‘non-essential’ shops (who decides these things?), I set myself the task of approaching as many indie booksellers as I could to tell them a little about me and my novel, and ask if they’d care to order it. I figured their customers could do with a light-hearted book that offered plenty of laughs and a few tears.

The response has been amazing! It is a time-consuming but joyful job, and I’m not done yet. The encouraging and entertaining replies I’ve had from so many booksellers more than compensate for any effort involved. Below is a list of the many lovely bookshops who’ve responded positively so far. I salute you all! And I salute, of course, all the other bookshops I don’t know about who have Note to Boy on order or already on their shelves. Thank you.

When restrictions allow, I do hope you’ll go along to your local indie bookshop and have a good old chat and a browse. They’ve somehow kept going during lockdown so it’s only fair that we visit them to say thanks and buy a novel or three. I don’t even mind if it’s not Note to Boy, although that would be nice. And if you can’t get to an independent, remember You can shop online and benefit the indies too.

Happy Easter, happy indie shopping and, most of all, happy reading!



Adventure into Books, Blairgowrie, Perthshire.

Barnett’s of Wadhurst, East Sussex.

Book Buster, Hastings, East Sussex.

Book, Paper, Scissors, Belfast,

Bookingham Palace, Chester.

The Bookshop, Bridport.

The Bookshop, Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria.

The Bookstore, Abingdon.

The Book Vault, Barnsley.

The Book Corner, Saltburn.

Brendon Books, Taunton.

Brick Lane Bookshop, London.

Blue Bear Bookshop, Farnham.

Castle Bookshop, Ludlow.

The Clifden Bookshop, County Galway.

Cover to Cover, Swansea.

Dartmouth Bookseller, Devon.

Daunt Books, Summertown, Oxford and Hampstead, London.

Devizes Books, Wiltshire.

The Dornoch Bookshop, Sutherland.

Edinburgh Bookshop.

Fitzgerald’s Bookshop, Macroom, Ireland.

Griffin Books, Penarth.

The Halesworth Bookshop, Suffolk.

The Holt Bookshop, Norfolk.

Joe’s Bookshop, Chingford.

Kenilworth Books, Warwickshire.

The Little Bookshop, Cookham.

The Little Ripon Bookshop, North Yorkshire.

Max Minerva’s Marvellous Books, Bristol.

Midland Books, Tullamore & Mullingar, Ireland.

Mostly Books, Abingdon.

The Old Hall Bookshop, Brackley.

Our Bookshop, Tring.

Pages of Hackney and Shoreditch, London.

Parade’s End Books, Kingston Upon Thames.

Pigeon Books, Southsea.

The Portobello Bookshop, Edinburgh.

Stillwater Bookshop, Felixstowe.

Store 104, Rochester.

Stroud Bookshop, Gloucestershire.

Typewronger Books, Edinburgh.

Ullapool Bookshop, Ross and Cromarty.

The Wallingford Bookshop, Oxfordshire.

Wyre Forest Books, Bewdley.

Help your local bookshop

What do authors David Nicholls, Marian Keyes, Matt Haig, Malorie Blackman and Adam Kay have in common? They are among the three hundred authors who’ve come together to help local bookshops during lockdown. Make that three-hundred and one. I’ve joined in.

Indie bookshops, like all bricks-and-mortar retailers, are having a hard time of it during Lockdown 2.0. The #SignForOurBookshops campaign aims to give them a helping hand. The idea, thought up by novelist Holly Bourne, is that readers who buy books from indie bookshops are rewarded with a signed bookplate from the author. Neat, eh?

If you buy a copy of Note to Boy from your local indie and contact me via Twitter or this website with proof of purchase and your address, a signed SFOB bookplate – designed by the the former children’s laureate, Chris Riddell – will be on its way to you. •••

I don’t expect to be sending out as many as the best-selling authors who are generously participating, but at least I can do my modest bit to keep local bookshops open and say ‘thank you’ to them for being so supportive of Note to Boy.

As Holly Bourne says, ‘SignForOurBookshops aims to entice locked-down customers away from the lure of a certain online retailer, by providing them with exclusive access to signed books, sold only through bookshops. It also hopes to be a thunderclap of support for bookshops, reminding people to support their local stores throughout lockdown.’

This campaign comes on the heels of the launch of another initiative,, which is pitching itself as a socially conscious alternative to Amazon. Could it be that the book market is changing?

*** UK only, sorry. Campaign ends with the lockdown (fingers crossed!) on 2 December. 


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Some good news (for a change)

Writers have a dilemma when it comes to the big online retailers (you know who you are!). On the one hand we want to support independent bookshops; on the other, the e-behemoths are so dominant, we need them if we want to get our books in front of as many readers as possible.

A solution may be on hand., launched in the UK this very day, is on a mission to support the indies by offering an alternative way to buy books online. It’s being described as a ‘revolutionary moment in the history of bookselling’.

Independent bookshops are marvellous things to be cherished. There, often housed in quaint old buildings, you’ll find people who, like you, love books and are ready and willing to answer questions and offer reading suggestions. Visiting an indie is in every way a much richer experience than clicking a ‘buy-now’ button. They are a vital part of our culture and the beating heart of many a town centre.

In these difficult times, it’s more important than ever to champion local bookshops. Even though up and down the land they are now having to close their doors for at least a month, you can still help them by visiting, the online bookstore that financially supports local independent bookstores and gives back to the book community.

Taking on the giants of e-retailing is a tall order. Whether has the clout to make a difference, we’ll just have to wait and see. 



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