Book-buying platform Bookshop.org has joined forces with the Booksellers Association (BA) to launch ‘New Futures’, an initiative to help create new bookshops founded by diverse UK entrepreneurs.
Diverse applicants are encouraged to apply if they feel they have the potential to build a viable bookselling business. These include applicants who identify as Black or any other ethnic minority, are LGBTQIA+, working-class, physically disabled, neurodiverse, or have mental health issues and/or learning disabilities.
Following calls for more diversity in publishing, the New Futures initiative will encourage the opening of more bookshops to serve underrepresented communities that sell books about diverse topics.
After a shortlisting and judging process, the selected winners will receive hands-on support from industry partners in retail, technology, and the book trade via a programme of education and support toward building their business plan for a multichannel bookshop. They will be given all the tools they need to launch a bookshop that creates “new and sustainable routes for diverse books to get into the hands of more readers.”
The judges include author Nikesh Shukla, Founder and CEO of Beautystack and The Stack World Sharmadean Reid; Founder of Dialogue Books and Bookshop.org board member Sharmaine Lovegrove; HarperCollins’s Talent and Audience Development Manager Nancy Adimora; The Bookseller Editor Phillip Jones; and indie bookseller at Sevenoaks Bookshop Fleur Sinclair.
The new initiative is part of Bookshop.org’s ongoing goal to support the creation of more diverse-owned small businesses as consumer interest in the high-street grows following the pandemic.
Sharmadean Reid said: “Books have always been my refuge in a world where I felt I had little power, and we must continue to encourage reading amongst younger generations. Supporting independent stores but especially diverse booksellers who will be able to curate their shelves with a different point of view is essential to preserving a collaborative and empathetic future.”
Nicole Vanderbilt, Managing Director of Bookshop.org, said: “The New Future initiative is much more than a search for a new bookseller from an underrepresented background. It’s a practical statement from Bookshop.org and The Booksellers Association of our core mission: to support the publishing and book world by helping independent booksellers thrive.
“We believe in a world where independent bookshops are an essential part of literary culture, and we are launching this exciting new programme to do our bit in ensuring diverse books meet the diverse audiences they deserve. We are looking forward to receiving applications from a wide range of candidates.”
Meryl Halls, Managing Director at the Booksellers Association, said: “Equality and inclusion are among the top priorities of The Booksellers Association, and the New Future programme is perfectly in line with our agenda. As we welcome the recent progress in the diversification of the range of published authors, we are keen to promote the opening of new bookshops that will match this richness of voices, where books can reach the hands of more diverse readers.
“The BA is committed to offering a breadth of opportunities to help its members grow, and we are incredibly excited to be offering mentoring and support to a new member of our family.”
The deadline for entries is 23.59 on Friday 12th November 2021, with the shortlist announced on Friday 21st January 2022.
For more information on the application process, click here. For any additional queries, please visit email@example.com.