So, this week is Independent Bookshop Week, and last week I was lucky enough to do work experience at Gallic Books, a publishing company that translates French books into English, as well as the independent bookshop run in the same place, Belgravia Books.
Over the course of this week I read three of the upcoming releases for Gallic and Aardvark, as part of my job (and yes, I know, that’s literally the coolest thing ever). The first was The White City by Roma Tearne, which is the story of a dystopian London which has been frozen for twenty-seven years. The main character is trying to find the man she loves whilst her family is falling apart after her brother is arrested on terrorism charges. It was quite a sad book, but beautifully written; the finished book hasn’t been printed yet, so I read the manuscript (another thing that I found unbelievable cool). I also had this small handbook with me whilst I read so that I could understand all the editing notation.
After that I read The Threat Level Remains Severe by Rowena Macdonald, a debut novel about three people working in parliament, and how all their lives become intertwined. I really enjoyed this book, and read it very quickly, and at other points during the week I was able to help work on other aspects of marketing this book. I also read The Portrait by Antoine Laurain, which is a story about a man who finds a painting that looks exactly like him, and when he traces it back to it’s origins he is presented with a unique and life-changing opportunity. This book had a very French feel to it, which was really interesting to read! Whilst reading all of these, I also was picking out quotes that I thought captured what the book was about, and could be used to spark people’s interest – this made my reading a lot more focused compared to my usual reading, so I feel that I really got a great understanding of all of these books!
I did a whole lot of other things as well, all of which made me fall even more love with publishing. Literally, I was even thrilled to be putting books into envelopes and sticking on the addresses.
I had a long chat with Andy, the bookshop manager, about everything to do with bookselling and the book trade (a fun fact that I have already passed on to three other people: those paperbacks you can find that have taller spines than normal paperbacks? They’re called trademarket paperbacks, and they have a special function within the book trade). I made about three pages of notes because it was all so interesting, so just consider me an expert now, OK? One of the key things I got from this work experience is that we need to support independent bookshops.
I’m sure many of you know this already, but still, maybe try to stop by your local independent bookstore this week? And let me know your thoughts on the matter, and how you prefer to buy your books!