October 7th 2017 marks the fifth birthday of the British book industry’s Books are My Bag campaign. Although it actually rumbles on all year round – particularly through the distinctive orange livery on bags, cloth bags and posters – Books are My Bag has always centered around an early October Saturday, just after the bulk of the big pre-Christmas book releases have hit the shelves.
Nowadays that main Saturday is known as “Bookshop Day” and it’s a day when shops go a bit more full-on in their bookishness, and a bit more orange, than usual. For 2017 Mr B’s is embracing Bath’s recent dragon obsession and marking the closing weekend of the fantastic Here Be Dragons exhibit at the Victoria Art Gallery by having illustrator Katie Harnett paint a vast dragon on our window.
Katie has just illustrated Jen Campbell’s debut children’s picture book, Franklin’s Flying Bookshop which features an unlikely friendship between a story-obsessed little girl and a dragon. The pair will be spending the middle of the day with us on Bookshop Day, with Katie drawing dragons and both of them signing books and earning their stripes as Mr B’s guest booksellers (we’ve ordered in stacks of their favourites just so they can tell you (and us) why they’re so special).
We’ll also get Jen to lead our annual Books are My Bag blackboard campaign. Each year we ask any customers who are keen to chalk onto our blackboard exactly what it is they love about books and, if they’re willing, to have their photo taken with the blackboard so the Bath book love can be whisked around the twittersphere.
And of course we’ll have bags. Oh so many bags. I was lucky enough to be around the table when the need for a campaign to promote physical bookshops was first discussed with the design team at M&C Saatchi who’d agreed to work on it on a pro bono basis (those guys LOVE books and bookshops). The idea was to boost awareness of just what wonderful places of discovery physical bookshops are – and not just independents by the way, this was to be a focal point for chains and indies alike. It was the folks at M&C Saatchi who came up with the Books are my Bag slogan and the simple but extremely effective lettering.
Each year there has been a new take on the classic orange lettered “Books are my Bag” bag, with guest artists including Tracey Amin and Grayson Perry putting their own distinctive twists on the design for an annual limited edition tote bag that goes on sale in bookshops on Bookshop Day. This year we’ll have stocks of an absolutely stunning bag designed for 2017 by Orla Kiely, modelled below by Amy who just happened to be wearing a matching dress?!
And of course we and most of the UK’s other bookshops will have a stock of the orange Books are My Bag totes to give away on Bookshop Saturday.
So do come and see us…or if you’re too far away…go into any other high-street bookshop and celebrate real books and bookshops!