PEOPLE are being urged to use their local bookshops as 275 towns in the UK are at risk of losing their stores.
The call comes on Independent Bookshop Week, the annual campaign of independent bookshops, which takes place this week.
A series of new initiatives was launched by the publishing industry last week in a bid to support the stores.
Marie Telford, owner of The Hayling Island Bookshop, visited a reception in the House of Commons, organised by the Booksellers Association and The Publishers Association, to mark the launch.
Booksellers Association president Nic Bottomley asked parliamentarians to lower business rates. He referenced research that found 275 towns in the UK could lose their bookshops.
He said: ‘Bookshops are cultural assets. They bring vitality to the high street at a time when the high street is under constant threat. Every high street is rich if it has got a bookshop.’
He highlighted the disparity in business rates, pointing to a branch of Waterstones which paid 60 times more than an online distribution centre in the same town, and called for a business rate exemption, like the dispensation given to pubs.
The event also looked at addressing ‘literacy cold spots’ and boosting children’s reading.
Marie said: ‘It was a great pleasure to see such support for these initiatives.
‘High street bookshops remain under pressure for survival despite the fact that internet book prices are no longer as cheap as they used to be.
‘We donate a percentage of our sales to parents and schools through price discounts to encourage children to buy books, but literacy continues to be a concern. I am determined to help schools and parents to encourage reading at home.’