In the astute 1980s political comedy Yes Minister civil servant sir Humphrey Appleby noted that to call a politician’s idea courageous effectively meant “this will lose you the election.” I have to confess that when I first heard about the Under Covers Bookstore and Cafe, my mind went straight to that staple of childhood viewing. The decision to open an indie author bookstore exclusively for self-published books felt like a very courageous decision indeed.
That said, it is a decision I would absolutely love to see vindicated. I have long since argued that indie bookstores and indie authors should work together. That many of us and many of them are part of the same kind of countercultural phenomenon. I have seen highly themed bookstores build wonderful followings, from a fabulous art book store in London’s Stoke Newington to an indie comics store that thrived for many years here in Oxford. And my own journey really began at Oxford’s legendary counterculture venue The Albion Beatnik Bookstore.
So this is something that could work, and I hope does. The team behind the idea have just launched a crowdfunding campaign. And the packages definitely put the emphasis on the author-store partnership, with many of the funding rewards offering prominent in-store positions for an author’s books.
The team clearly have big ambitions. Of course crowdfunding platforms, like venture capitalists, tend to goad people into wild claims, but the vision section of the pitch mixes a strong sense of indie values with a clear statement of intent.
“Our dream is not limited to just one bookstore; we aim to create a chain of self-published author bookstores, starting in the UK and expanding across the United States, then Worldwide. These stores will become beacons for storytellers who might never have had a chance to shine and for readers seeking fresh, original voices.”
It’s a very worthy goal and one I hope proves to be more than courageous.