Independent Bookshop Week: 5-Minute Interview with Emma Bradshaw

Independent Bookshop Week: 5-Minute Interview with Emma Bradshaw

Emma Bradshaw began her career as a bookseller at Ottakar’s in Bromley before moving to the publicity department at HarperCollins Children’s Books. She joined the Bloomsbury team in 2007, where she worked for almost 11 years as Senior Publicity Manager. In July 2018 Emma took up her current role as Head of Campaigns at the Booksellers Association. Emma and her team look after all of the Books Are My Bag consumer-facing campaigns, including Bookshop Day, the Books Are My Bag Readers Awards, Indie Book of the Month, the Indie Book Awards and Independent Bookshop Week.

What was the last book you read?

I’ve been working my way through the shortlists for the Indie Book Awards and have just finish Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo (which I purchased from Round Table Books). It is every bit as excellent as everyone says it is. My favourite read of the year so far. I highly recommend you buy yourself a copy (from a bookshop, naturally)!

Which bookshop did you buy your last book from?

The beautiful Forum Books in Corbridge. Helen Stanton and her team can always be relied upon for outstanding recommendations. I bought a copy of Raven Black by the wonderful Ann Cleeves and Leonard and Hungry Paul by Ronan Hession. Helen is a big supporter of both authors, so I know I’m in for a real treat.

What’s next on your reading list?

I’m halfway through The Offing by Benjamin Myers (bought from Booka Bookshop), another Indie Book Awards shortlistee, which is wonderful. It’s a real love letter to nature and the Yorkshire countryside. And FOOD! Oh my word the food in it will have you salivating. It’s perfect for a bit of armchair travelling, especially, if like me you are stuck in a London suburb due to lockdown.

What is your local bookshop?

I am so very lucky that my town’s high street has an independent bookshop and that it’s walking distance from my home. Beckenham Bookshop is run by Kelly Bradford and her team, and they reopened on 15th June, having been fully closed since March. It’s so good to have them back!!

Which writer would you have loved to have met and why?

Oooh, this is a tough one. I think I have to go with Agatha Christie. I’d love to visit her at Greenway for cocktails on the lawn, and to pick her brains about plot, Poirot, mystery, Miss Marple and murder. Or Daphne du Maurier… This is too hard.

Tell us what you do in 20 words.

I co-ordinate campaigns that encourage consumers to shop with high street and independent bookshops in the UK and Ireland.

What’s your reading platform of choice? Paper, eBooks or audio?

Whether I’m curled up on the sofa, in the bath, lying on a beach or travelling on a train, it has to be paper. Hardback or paperback, I’m not fussy, but never digital.

What was your first job in the book industry?

I was a bookseller! I did a BA in Illustration at university and children’s books had always been my passion. I started work for Ottakar’s in Bromley, fresh from graduation in 2002, and spent three very happy years there running the children’s department, including the events programme.

What impact has the recent changing world had on indie bookshops and what are your predictions for their future?

Lockdown has meant that many indies have had to completely cease trading for weeks, if not months. Those that continued to trade have done so with the majority of their staff furloughed; they have had to work extra-long hours; many have created and begun using e-commerce websites for the first time; they have had to deal with supply chain issues, trying to paying bills and negotiating with landlords, all at a time when their turnover is a fraction of what it would be under normal circumstances. It has been, and continues to be, an incredibly hard time.

Independent booksellers have dealt with all of this with smiles on their faces; they have continued to serve their communities, many going above and beyond the call of duty; they have proved how resilient, creative, adaptable and dedicated they are. I hope that lockdown will have reminded consumers that where they spend their money matters and of the value of independent bookshops.

How can people find out which bookshops are open and taking part in Independent Bookshop Week?

Currently bookshops in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and England are allowed to open their doors, but not everyone has. Of those that have, many are running reduced trading hours. Booksellers, quite rightly, are opening their doors as and when they feel they can do so safely. We’re still waiting to hear when bookshops in Wales and Scotland will be allowed to open their doors.

At the time of writing this, many bookshops throughout the UK and Ireland are offering a click and collect service and/or taking orders for delivery, so even if you can’t go into the shop itself yet, you can still shop with most bookshops.

Independent Bookshop Week is taking place 20-27 June and, while it is taking on a different shape this year, there are lots of fantastic events that book lovers can join virtually. And of course it’s a great opportunity to support our local bookshops by remembering to shop local. By visiting Independent Bookshop Week you can find out which independent bookshops are nearest to you and click through to their website to see what level of service they are currently offering, and what exciting treats they might have in-store for Independent Bookshop Week.

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