Never has your support of bricks and mortar bookshops been so needed.

Here’s a picture of “choice” – from Mostly books in Abingdon:

I’ve written about this before, and yes, I have to declare myself, I am a bookseller, at Waterstones in Bath, so I have even more interest in this than most authors, but – and I cannot stress this enough – PLEASE DON’T ORDER BOOKS FROM AMAZON DURING THIS CRISIS. PLEASE ORDER THEM FROM A BOOKSHOP.

I spent more than twenty years as a retailer. I know how awful those empty days can be – and just now, there are bookshops looking at their electricity bills, their rate bills and wondering how, with two customers through the door they are going to pay them.

You can be their heroes. You can ring them, tweet them, email them – you can even visit them. Bookshops are much safer much emptier than supermarkets and people don’t seem to be having any difficult visiting them.

You can follow new releases on twitter – on the Waterstones website, on Foyles and on individual websites. You can follow the hashtag #twitterbooklaunch and find out which books are coming out. Or you can ask a bookseller. A proper one, over the phone.

Thing is, if you don’t – we will lose all the choice. We will be down to the books that Tesco stocks. Down to three or four big names. The smaller names, the mid list, the interesting books will disappear. The bookshops will go. The booksellers will go. The writers because the bookshops have gone, will pack up and get proper jobs. YOU WILL NEVER GET THEM BACK!

Coronavirus is demonstrating how fragile an ecosystem the book industry is. We inside, know a lot, but the public is soooo dependent on seeing the covers and reading the blurbs that they won’t know what the choices are if the choice disappears. We need to make an effort to keep our industry alive – otherwise, we’ll all be lost.

So spend the money that you would have been spending on a coffee, and buy a book from a bookshop – or a record from a record shop, or a bar of soap from a proper shop. Use your money wisely.

Here endeth the lecture.