Wednesday, 30 May 2012


Join us for an incredible triple-anthology launch on Friday 8 June.

In an evening brimming with talented short story writers, we will have readings from three brand new books:

- Jawbreakers, which was released to celebrate National Flash Fiction Day and features contribitions from Ali Smith, Ian Rankin, Tania Hershman, David Gaffney and Vanessa Gebbie;

- Enough, a collection of short stories from Bristol prize winner Valerie O'Riordan;

- Braking Distance, a new Salt Publishing anthology from National Flash Fiction Day's scribbler-in-chief Calum Kerr.

And that's not all. We'll have a smörgåsbord of super scribes reading too: Jenn Ashworth, David Gaffney, Dan Carpenter, Benjamin Judge, Sarah-Clare Conlon, Trevor Byrne and Rupan Malakin. We have the best fiction talent this side of Jupiter.

It all starts just after work at 6.30pm on Friday 8 June 2012, so there'll be plenty of socialising time afterwards. It takes place in our bookshop, admission is free and there will be refreshments.


Edit: Read the response from Neil McInnes, head of Libraries, Information & Archives here.

A year ago, the Manchester Evening News reported that a third of Central Library's books are going to book heaven. Sold, given away or pulped into mush.

There is a letter now circulating accusing the council of "cultural vandalism on an industrial scale". Melvyn Burgess has just posted the text on his Facebook page.

Now, us here in the book industry love and worship books, but we also have a slighly blasé attitude towards book pulping: we send books to be pulped all the time. It's how mainstream publishing works.

And we would assume the council is not destroying nineteenth century antiques. Is it?

However, the debate about austerity and the arts is still raging among those who mourn the Greenroom, while further south, Brent Council is under attack for its library-stripping.

Have a read. What do you think? Are books really that precious, or should we re-use the paper? Is it vandalism, or are people just afraid of change? Are you looking forward to the brand new library? Is Manchester losing something important? Leave your comments below.

Dear Lover of Literature,

We are writing to you because we recognise that you are somebody who cares about the written word and fully appreciates what Manchester Central Library’s book stock represents in terms of Manchester’s cultural heritage.

We are sure that you are aware that Central Library has been closed for a while for refurbishment. What you may not be aware of is that senior management at the library seriously miscalculated the shelf space needed to house the reference books when the library is re-opened in 2013. In an article in the Manchester Evening News (14/6/11) they admitted that they would be ‘weeding’ 300,000 books but claimed these would be replaced by the same number of ‘items’. This was complete spin. The ‘items’ they referred to largely represent the stock of the County Record Office, many of which are single sheets. The CRO is being amalgamated into the Library building when it re-opens.

The sad truth is that, as you read this letter, library staff are engaged in a continuing process of segregating for destruction a large proportion of the very thing that makes Manchester Central Library unique amongst British public libraries – its extensive and historic reference stock. It is probable that up to half the reference and lending non-fiction stock (up to half a million volumes) will have been destroyed by the time Central Library re-opens. These texts, which were housed in the old ‘stacks’ in Central Library, represented a storehouse of non-fiction reference volumes, many of which date back to the late nineteenth century. The criteria for the selection of books for destruction is unclear. The staff charged with responsibility for this job are not subject specialists, indeed many of them are not trained librarians. Many of them feel uneasy about what they are being asked to do, but they fear for their jobs, particularly in the current economic climate.
Once these books have been pulped (and many thousands of them already have been) there will be no record of them ever having existed, they will simply be erased from the system. There will be no way of knowing how many of them were rare volumes, or even unique. This is cultural vandalism on an industrial scale.
If you wish to voice your concerns over this matter, please contact:

Eamonn O’Rourke, Head of Community and Cultural Services
Vicky Rosin, Assistant Chief Executive (Neighbourhoods)
Cllr. Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council
Cllr. Mike Amesbury, Executive Member for Culture and Leisure

The above can all be contacted at Manchester Town Hall, Albert Square, Manchester, M60 2LA


Tony Lloyd MP Manchester Central, House of Commons, London SW1A OAA

Alternatively, why not initiate a campaign through social media asking the Library Service to come clean about what they are doing with the city’s heritage? Library staff are only custodians of these books – it is the people of Manchester who should be making the decisions regarding their future.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Tuesday, 15 May 2012


If you want an event that's a flash in the pan - but in a good way - then look out for National Flash Fiction Day hitting the streets of Manchester tomorrow.

In the evening, Bad Language will host the finals of their flash fiction competition at the wonderful 3 Minute Theatre. If you've not this treasure trove of a venue, then it's worth a visit: it's inside Affleck's Palace through the Oldham Street entrance.

And during the day, Manchester writing crew #Flashtag will flash-mob short stories at loads of iconic Manchester venues including Manchester Museum, Manchester University, The Cornerhouse and the People's History Museum.

It's up to you to try and find the #Flashtag gang: follow their Twitter feed during the day or their #flashtag hashtag.

Flashtag hashtag. Poetry in motion (literally (although it's fiction and not poetry (never mind))).

Friday, 11 May 2012


You may have a noticed a little change at our bookshop this week.

Our brand-spanking new cafe will open on Monday morning, May 14 at 8.30am. We've spent a long time in the planning process, so it's hugely exciting to be able to be serving coffee with our books again.

There were other options for the cafe space, of course:

- a ball pit.

- one massive aquarium. With real whales.

- an evil laboratory in which we built a lazer to destroy the moon.

- one of those hedge mazes you get at fancy stately homes.

- bouncy castle.

- a McSweeney's bookshop.

Thanks for your patience as we waited for our new coffee shop. As the saying goes, better latte than never*.

Do come and say hello to our new Starbuck's colleagues, and learn the fancy lingo for all the coffees. We sell books to help you speak Italian: all the words are probably in there.

* sorry

Tuesday, 8 May 2012


Our launch of the Leila Khaled biography on May 24th has been cancelled due to unforseen circumstances.

Leila Khaled: Icon of Palestinian Liberation by Sarah Irving is a compelling account of Khaled's turbulent life. At the book launch, Sarah will explore Leila Khaled's involvement with a radical element of the PLO, the rise of Hamas, the role of women in a largely male movement and Khaled's activism today.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012


I surprised myself with a little comment at our Gregory Norminton book launch last week. I told a friendly, wine-supping crowd that you don't get book launches like ours on Amazon.

A month on from Tim Waterstone's broadside against the online bookseller, it seems that the ever-expanding Amazon are becoming the new Tesco. Easy to use, but also easy to kick.

And why not? Every time you shop on Amazon, it means fewer and smaller bookshops. A quarter of independent bookshops have closed in the past five years.

Many of my friends believe in shopping locally and buying ethically-sourced produce and yet think nothing of spending their book money with Amazon.

But there's also a challenge for us bricks and mortar people because, actually, Amazon can be quite useful. They can do the clicky thing well, and so we need to be much better at other things. There's a need for us bookshops to be personal and professional in a way that web 2.0 can never achieve.

That's one of the reasons why we've bought chairs. And PA equipment. And booze. Because we can do book launches in a way that Amazon can't.

One of our event regulars (I won't embarrass the person by naming them!) described our events as "intimate, bright, well organised and hilarious". You may have missed some of our recent events with the likes of Socrates Adams, Chris Emery (pictured) and Gregory Norminton, but you can get an idea of what we do from our book launches Pinterest page.

Blackwell's intend to be in Manchester for many years to come. However, we need to keep changing, tweaking and, if necessary, having outrageously fun book launches.