Monday, 9th November 2020
The opening to last week’s blog was completely out of date before it was even published, courtesy of the UK government seemingly leaking like a sieve. Had journalists not reported that the PM would be addressing the nation on Monday afternoon to announce a second lockdown, then it would have been current for at least 6 hours. As it was, the press briefing was brought forward to Saturday at 4pm, then 5pm, then 6.30 to Boris Johnson finally telling the public what we already knew at 6.48 – that in order to curtail the number of cases and to stop our hospitals once again becoming overwhelmed, the UK was heading towards lockdown once again.
This lockdown is different to the first which saw an almost entire cessation of all but the essential services. Right now, as a college, it’s business as usual – albeit that it’s ‘usual’ in a pandemic sort of way. We had been hoping to expand our reduced services a little but given where we are it’s been judged prudent to maintain the ones we’ve already established safely.
Going online again
Once again, non-essential shops will be facing the pointy end of the stick. We’ve talked before about how bookshops have had to learn ways to expand their customer service and expectations. This time around, like many others in the retail sector, they are better equipped to continue sales online. And a very timely new service has appeared to help out the independent bookshops. Hive has been around a while as a one-stop shop for independent bookshops – it’s entirely UK based and gives a percentage of each book sale to a bookshop – but a rival platform has been launched and is proving to be popular.
Bookshop started earlier this year in the US and has now reached these shores, earlier than planned due to the pandemic, with around 150 retailers signing up. It’s a very different beast to Hive. With Hive, you search for a book and place an order – without knowing which particular retailer is satisfying the order. You can still do this with Bookshop but you can also visit individual bookshop through virtual shopfronts hosted on the website. These shopfronts can then offer a little more to the shopper by way of recommendations and reading lists. Each bookshop receives a generous profit margin from each sale. It’s been certified as a B Corporation – “a business that meets the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose”.
The founder of Bookshop has said “Bookshops are essential to a healthy culture, and online sales are vital to safeguarding their future. We can’t afford to lose them. Covid-19 has added further urgency to the need for bookshops to compete for online sales. Bookshop.org’s mission is to empower customers in supporting local, brick and mortar bookstores, providing book buyers with an easy way to shop online while continuing to support their local high street.”
What looks great about this platform too is that it offers the chance for authors, reviewers and bloggers – amongst others – to spread their own love for particular books and genres – with any purchases being channeled through the Bookshop website and money going to the bookshops involved.
You can read more about Bookshop in this article from the Guardian
But what else could help your local bookstore? For it’s 17 day national circuit break, Wales forced the large supermarkets that remained open to close off access to the non-essential products in order to preserve the business of the small high street shops. For this new lockdown, however, the government is being asked to classify all retailers as “essential”. James Daunt, managing director of Waterstones, told the Bookseller that being able to offer click and collect could be a “game-changer” for high street booksellers during the second national lockdown.
What we were reading in the first lockdown
Books have been very much in demand since the initial lockdown in March as, not surprisingly, people found themselves with more free time on their hands than they could have wished for. But what were we reading?
Unsurprisingly, very early on Normal People by Sally Rooney was coming out top of the charts as the start of lockdown coincided with the airing of a BBC adaptation of the novel. Equally, there’d be no prizes for guessing that Adam Kay’s This is Going to Hurt, featuring the NHS in a starring role, saw a great increase in sales. And word of mouth finally brought Delia Owen’s 2018 book Where the Crawdads Sing to the attention of the UK book buying public.
More recently, the publisher Bloomsbury has reported that its profits jumped 40% from February to August – helped along by sales of the Harry Potter series. For a company that feared the worst when it closed its doors and furloughed its staff, this upturn has been very welcome.
This has been felt in many areas of the publishing world. Initially, the books were those like Normal People – simply very easy titles to stumble across – but, as bookshops reopened, the increase in sales continued and the type of books purchased seemed more balanced, albeit sometimes reflecting the mood of the country at the time. For example, some of the bestselling books included Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People about Race and Crescent City : House of Earth and Blood, just as the Black Lives Matters movement was brought to our attention. It should also be noted that sales of cookbooks were also quite healthy during this entire period – something that wouldn’t surprise anyone who struggled to buy key baking ingredients in March and April.
And some of Bloomsburys best selling books? Lose Weight for Good by Tom Kerrdige, Dishoom : from Bombay with Love by Dishoom Restaurant, and A Baker’s Life by Paul Hollywood. Food for thought.
Spotlight on…Michael Morpurgo
Like many events, Remembrance Day will be different this year. 11th November marks the 102nd anniversary of the signing of the Armistice agreement, which brought the First World War to an end. We may not be able to attend Remembrance Day ceremonies this year, but we can still commemorate those who died in the line of duty. A good way to do this is to read books about war. One author whose war literature is particularly popular is Michael Morpurgo.
Michael Morpurgo was originally a teacher before becoming a full time author. As well as his writing, he is also involved in charity work. He founded the charity Farms for City Children with his wife Clare Morpurgo in 1976. Farms for City Children gives children from urban areas the experience of being in the countryside and taking part in farm work. Around 85,000 children have benefited from the charity’s work so far. Michael and Clare Morpurgo were both honoured with an MBE for their charity work in 1999. Michael Morpurgo has since been awarded the higher honours of an OBE and being made a Knight Bachelor for services to charity and literature.
Michael Morpurgo has written books set in multiple wars, including the First World War, the Second World War, the Spanish Civil War and the Afghanistan War. We have many of these titles in the LRC, including Toro! Toro!, Billy the Kid, Private Peaceful, Why the Whales Came, Shadow, and arguably his most famous war novel, War Horse.
War Horse is the story of Joey, a horse who is sold to the army at the start of the First World War. He is separated from Albert, the farmer’s son, and plunged straight into the heart of the conflict on the Western Front. He witnesses the horrors of war, charging towards the enemy with his officer on his back. Joey displays courage despite all he experiences, and he inspires the soldiers around him. Yet even as he stays hopeful, he is desperate to return safely to Albert.
War Horse has been hugely successful, and has been turned into a critically acclaimed play and film. The play is famous for its innovative use of puppetry, with incredible life-sized puppets of horses being a key feature in the play. It has won numerous awards, including five Tony awards.
If you are a member of Brooklands College and interested in reading Michael Morpurgo’s books (or any of our other books), you can request to borrow them from the LRC.
Remembrance Day 11th November
Sian has done a presentation and has featured how the College celebrates the day.
World Kindness Day 13th November
Kindness is something that should always be present throughout our daily lives but probably never more so than now. See Glenn’s beautiful presentation here.
Diwali 14th November
Paola has taken a look at the festival of Diwali. Unsurprisingly, her presentation is full of colour and character.
Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley
This is the love story of Eric and Jubilee.
Jubilee is a young woman with a very rare condition that makes her allergic to human touch and has lived her adult years hermit-like out of fear of accidental and possibly fatal contact with other people. But her estranged mother has died and there is now no one left to foot the bills. So she sets to find work. After bumping into an apologetic former high school nemesis, she’s offered work at the local library. And the reader gets to see her reintroduction into society albeit a society within the confines of a public library and some of its regular visitors. You also get to learn what the high school nemesis had to be apologetic about.
And then there’s Eric, who is as emotionally stunted as Jubilee is physically. He is estranged from his own daughter and has temporarily moved to the town with his adopted son, the now-orphaned child of his best friend. He’s determined to rekindle his relationship with his daughter and is trying desperately not to repeat the mistakes he made with her with his son. He is on a steep learning curve when he encounters Jubilee.
It took me a while to read this book – it lived in my locker at work and only ever came out when I had a lunch break – which was once a week. However, after a few lunctimes, I decided the book was worth a little bit more attention so I took it home and finished it in one sitting. Although it is a great read, it is a love story that simply cannot run smoothly, and I did get a little frustrated with the final chapters.
This book is available for loan from the LRC
Remember the #10WordStory a couple of weeks ago? Harrogate Festivals have been featuring these stories on billboards across Harrogate Town and, of course, to the wider audience on social media. See Harrogate and the #10WordStory
Worried about fines? No problem. All loans have been renewed and fines waived while the LRC was closed. Books can now be returned to the College. Please contact the LRC to find out about current procedures.
Access our virtual library online
You can search for e-books on the library catalogue or directly through our e-book providers.. Click on the Shibboleth login if requested and select Brooklands College. If you have any problems please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The LRC is still available for book borrowing. Although our shelves are currently not available for browsing we can help find materials for you. Contact us with an area you are interested in or your assignment title and we can suggest some resources for you.
The LRC website contains links to our resources, our online catalogue and is full of information about LRC use, plus there are book reviews, links to our displays and other items of interest. It is only available to College members (sorry) and can be found through links on the LRC Google Classroom, and on the staff and student intranets.
LRC Google Classroom page
Tutors have been invited to join the Classroom and will be passing the joining code on to their students. It’s full of links to resources, and helpful advice and tips.
Please contact us at email@example.com if you need support with e-books, e-resources or anything else.