Una MacConville looks forward to another exciting week for the Irish book world
Irish Book Week returns this autumn after a hugely successful launch last year. Designed to celebrate Irish-published books, Irish-authored books and Irish-interest books, as well as the wonderful bookshops in which to buy them, the initiative came about last year as a collaboration between Bookselling Ireland and Publishing Ireland to showcase the strength of Irish writing today.
This year the ambassadors are: broadcaster and founder of Ireland’s biggest book club Rick O’Shea; musician and children’s author Niall Breslin; and authors of the bestselling ‘Aisling’ series Sarah Breen and Emer McLysaght. The ambassadors will take part in events throughout Irish Book Week and support the campaign across media. There will also be loads of amazing Irish writers taking part, including Vera Twomey, Claudia Carroll, Joe Duffy, Rory O’Connor, Sarah Fitzgerald, Vicky Phelan, Louise Phillips, Allison Hackett, Sinead Culbert and Sue Collins, amongst others.
Throughout Irish Book Week, which runs from Saturday 26 October until Saturday 2 November, there will be events across the country celebrating Irish books and the central role bookshops play in Irish society and culture. The week aims to encourage people into their local bookshop, and to highlight the important role bookshops play in the fabric of Irish life—fostering cultural creativity, community spirit and generating economic activity. Bookshops often fulfil a wider role than just selling books—acting as a community meeting place, a tourist information point and a cultural hub. They are integral to supporting the Irish publishing industry, which adds to the social and cultural richness of the country. To find out what’s happening, pop into your local bookshop and follow Bookselling Ireland on Facebook and Twitter.
Speaking about his reasons for getting involved, author Niall Breslin said: ‘Growing up, record stores were always such a core part of the high streets across towns and cities. The buzz of going into one and browsing through the albums was a huge part of my childhood. With the onset of the internet and its affect on the music industry these vital places started to close down all over the country and I still miss them. Bookshops provide this same impact for many. Getting lost in the shelves is always such a brilliant way to spend some time in this fast-moving dynamic society of ours. Luckily, the internet didn’t have the same impact on the book industry as it did on the music industry and it is important we preserve the crucial importance of bookshops in our villages, towns and cities.’
Authors of the bestselling ‘Aisling’ series Sarah Breen & Emer McLysaght added: ‘We’ve been in Irish bookshops up and down the country these past few years and have been blown away by the hard work, kindness and dedication of the people running them, as well as the talent of Irish writers on the shelves. We are delighted to be Irish Book Week ambassadors and to fly the flag for a nation of storytellers.’
To support the campaign, Bookselling Ireland have also launched the Find Your Local Bookshop app, which allows consumers in Ireland to search for bookshops in their neighbourhood. The app lists all Bookselling Ireland bookshops in the Republic of Ireland and automatically shows the consumer the bookshops closest to their location. Consumers can search by location and bookshop name. They can also limit their search to academic booksellers, chains, children’s, Christian, independents and school suppliers. Each search result returns the key contact details for the shop, as well as directions from the consumer’s current location, opening hours and available services.
‘I love spending my time these days promoting books and Irish authors just for fun; it’s a genuine privilege that Irish Book Week have asked me to do it as a job, for a week at least!’ said Rick O’Shea.
If you want to learn more about Irish Book Week and all the events going on visit their website and follow their story on twitter using #IrishBookWeek