A bookshop.org store. Image by Book Culture.

A bookshop.org store. Image by Book Culture.

Bookshop.org Launches New Futures, an Initiative for Underrepresented Communities

Bookshop.org Launches New Futures, an Initiative for Underrepresented Communities

Bookshop.org, the ethically conscious book-buying platform on a mission to support independent bookshops, and The Booksellers Association (BA) are delighted to launch New Futures, a new programme to select, reach and foster new bookshops founded by entrepreneurs from underrepresented communities across the UK.

Over recent years, there has been an increased focus on diversity in publishing, with moves for more representation in publishing itself, as well as the acquisition of new titles from authors whose voices have been historically underrepresented.

Taking inspiration from these seismic changes, The New Futures initiative has been launched to encourage and inspire the opening of new bookshops to serve underrepresented communities, creating new routes for books to reach the hands of more diverse readers.

The New Futures initiative encourages applicants from underrepresented communities, including individuals who identify as black and other marginalised ethnicities, LGBTQIA+, working class, physically disabled, neurodiverse, sufferers of mental health issues and those with learning disabilities amongst others, who feel they have the potential to build viable bookselling businesses.

Through a shortlisting, mentoring, and judging process, the selected winner(s) will receive hands-on support from industry partners in retail, technology, and the book trade—including TheBooksellers Association, Gardners, The Bookseller and Midas – through a concentrated programme of education and support toward building their business plan for a multichannel bookshop. 

Successful applicants 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 and contribute to increased vibrancy and resilience in British communities.

It will be judged by 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 Philip Jones; and indie bookseller at Sevenoaks Bookshop Fleur Sinclair.

Following the renewed interest in the high street after the challenges of the pandemic, Bookshop.org is at the forefront of a new retail revolution, supporting a more diverse ownership of small businesses and enabling new business owners to meet their customers where they are—online and on the high street. The platform, which currently has over 7,000 non-bookshop affiliates, offers affiliates with distinct, different, and historically marginalised voices to curate, share and champion diverse books from across publishing.

Sharmadean Reid, Founder and CEO of Beautystack and The Stack World, 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.”

Nancy Adimora, Talent and Audience Development Manager, Diversity & Inclusion at HarperCollins Publishers, said: “There’s something magical about stepping into a bookshop, so more bookshops can only be a good thing. I’m absolutely delighted to be a part of this project and I’m looking forward to identifying and supporting new entrepreneurs in this area.”

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 to our family.”

The application process, along with further information about the New Futures programme, can be found here.

Queries should be directed to uk.support@bookshop.org.

The deadline for entries is 23.59 on Friday 12th November, with the shortlist announced on Friday 21st January 2022.

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