When I heard that the one store left untouched during the recent riots in London was a bookstore, my heart sank. This article in The Guardian asks all the right questions, including this one: “Are you more or less likely to riot if you read?”
Maybe it’s just a question of class. As the author Gavin James Bower says, “Jobs in publishing overwhelmingly go to white, middle-class people. The product reflects this, which isn’t much good if you’re a working-class kid.” If publishing is full of white, middle-class people is it any wonder that bookshops are too? The writing community can be as diverse as it likes – in class, race, religion and genre – but if publishers don’t know how to market these books, they’re not going to find readers. Or maybe it starts even earlier, in school, where according to the journalist Kieran Yates “young people often don’t feel like they can empathise with a syllabus of literature that is so far removed from their own lives”.