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Monday 7 October 2013



Recently you may have seen canvas totes with Books Are My Bag blazoned on the side in bold orange font on your high street. You definitely will have if you have popped into a bookshop. You may be wondering what they are all about.

In a nutshell, it is about supporting Book Shops, bricks and mortar, pages there for you to flick through and books you can take home with you right there and then with a cheesy grin on your face instead of waiting around for the post man. The campaign is about encouraging people to visit their local book shop and give them your hard earned pounds instead of feeding the tax avoiding online giants *ahem*.

I used to be a bookseller, and obviously now I am a librarian, you wouldn't believe the amount of people that look at me funny when I say I still buy books, and that I still regularly go into my local shops to buy the books, and pay the full RRP. They act a bit like I am betraying my library, but sometimes authors and publishers need more of a boost than they get from the lending rights. So yes, I buy books on the regular (I should probably haul them a bit more but then I would be facing up to my little hoarding problem.)

As a former bookseller I have experience with discount prices, I know when a book shop can't really afford to discount a book as much as they do in order to match competition, and I really do not like big supermarkets putting book shops out of business. You can't ask for a recommendation from someone who is passionate about their stock in a supermarket or on a website. I know we are all striving to find the best deal nowadays, but the value of the written word should go beyond that. I'm not saying pay full price for all of your books all the time, especially if you are hard up, but every so often, ignore the fact that Amazon is cheaper, and pop into your local shop and buy a book at the market price. It always makes me think a bit harder about which book I am going to buy when I do this, and I usually end up picking something thought provoking.

Last week I popped to my local W H Smith's (I don't have a local Independent, or a Waterstone's *sigh*) and I went on my little journey around the very small shop and popped to my current favourite section, popular science. I keep buying from there lately, I am happy to pay more for a book that is going to teach me something. I picked up two books I have been wanting to buy for a while now, and proudly carried them away in my free Books Are My Bag tote bag.

So the first of the books I picked up was Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner RRP £9.99 - Linked price £7.19 at WHSmith, It is impossible to find things full price online!
(Also, I love that they have the two different spellings of Stephen, makes me wonder if when people talk about them they say "the one with the V" or "with the PH")

Freakonomics was published in 2005, and was a huge phenomenon, at the time I was at college and it didn't really hit my radar, but when Superfreakonomics came out in 2009, I was at the height of my book selling days and I heard a lot about it. I had always wanted to see what both books were about but I was a staunch fiction reader at the time, and bogged down with reading classics for university so never got around to it. Newly released as part of Penguin's new range of non fiction with a lovely orange stripe down the spine, it appeared in my local Smith's and I decided it was time to take it home.

Second up is Bad Pharma by Ben Goldacre, RRP £8.99 - Linked price £6.47 at WHSmith online.
I find it a bit controversial that I bought this one, as some of my family work in the pharmaceuticals industry, but I found myself compelled to read after seeing it pop up all over the internet. I have to admit I will probably be reading this one with a pinch of salt because unfortunately I know that in order to make progress with drugs that can work for many many people, there will always be people who will have side effects, that is scientific discovery all over. Nevertheless, I am interested to see what Goldacre reveals and the edition I have also has responses to the book in it too, so it will be nice to read those. This thing is huge though, so I am not sure when I will get round to picking it up.

So those were my picks for my tote, how do you feel about paying full price for books?
If asked would you buy from your local bookshop to keep it open?
How often do you actually find yourself putting that into practice?

Maybe I should write a book exploring that.

For more information about the Books Are My Bag campaign you can visit the website here, their twitter @BooksAreMyBag and visit the Facebook page. To support the campaign pop to your local bookshop, buy a book and ask for your free tote, they are available until christmas.

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