Kenilworth bookshop will back established authors after World Book Day celebrity controversy

Tamsin Rosewell of Kenilworth Books
Tamsin Rosewell of Kenilworth Books

A Kenilworth bookshop will back established authors during World Book Day after many celebrities were picked as the event’s featured authors.

The list of ten books, which can all be bought for £1 using tokens around the day next year, features books by celebrities such as sports presenter Clare Balding, Bake-Off winner Nadiya Hussain and comedian Julian Clary.

More established authors such as David Almond and Anthony McGowan slammed the list after it was released last weekend.

In response, Tamsin Rosewell of Kenilworth Books said if customers instead bought a book by an author they recommended, the shop will donate £1 to the Society of Authors.

The society is the trade union for writers and helps them by giving advice and awarding grants.

Tamsin said: “We’re in such a celebrity-dominated environment now - we’re beginning to confuse celebrity with talent.

“There are so many amazing children’s authors that could have been picked. We’re living in a really great age of writing - when I was a kid we didn’t have anywhere near the same amount of choice.

“I think the list is lazy. It defeats the whole point of World Book Day.”

But rather than simply moaning about the problem, Tamsin and business partner Judy Brook wanted to do something practical.

They felt the Society of Authors was a great organisation to support as it gives a lot of help to writers.

Tamsin added: “You can join the society and they will support you. You can apply for a grant to help you finish a book.

“Without that support, people are going to give up and stop writing because celebrities will have taken over the role.”

The shop has received support for its stance.

Victoria Mier, of fellow Kenilworth booksellers The Tree House Bookshop, said: “We all want to celebrate books, and encourage children to read, but the dominance of celebrity writers is a deep concern.”

And on Facebook, Nina Bobe, a parent to a ‘would-be writer’, commented that the shop’s idea was ‘helpful and encouraging’.

World Book Day director Kirsten Grant said: “Authors and illustrators are instrumental to the World Book Day campaign, and on this year’s list we have a mix of names that children will already know and love, as well as those that we hope they will discover for the first time.

“In addition, each of the fiction titles will contain an extract by an up-and-coming author, to enable children to continue their reading journey and discover great new authors.

“There are lots of hugely loved authors and brands on the list, from Mr Men to Paddington, to the Oi! series, as well as fabulous newer stars like Pamela Butchart – and yes, there are celebrity writers on the list (who have written their own books), but if they are the catalyst to encouraging a non-reader to pick up a book, widen the reach and start a nationwide conversation about reading, then everyone will be better off.”

World Book Day falls on March 1, and the £1 book tokens are valid from February 26 to March 25.