Book Lovers Day Q&A
As a publishing house, where would we be without our readers? Over the last 20 years they've bought, read, reviewed, gifted and maybe even reread some of our titles. They've spent hours poring through the pages of books that we worked on tirelessly, giving them homes at local schools, libraries or on their own bookshelves. For your dedication and support we'd like to take this time to thank you. While Graffeg has undergone many changes over the last 20 years, our readers have stuck by our side and to this day we still appreciate every order, review and window display.
We recently sat down with Publishing Director, Matthew Howard, to ask him a few questions on his plans for Book Lovers Day, and his personal bookish habits.
Q: In a society where books are rejected more often than ever, why is it still important to celebrate reading communities on a day like Book Lovers Day?
A: Books may be being ‘rejected’ but society is also increasingly aware that a 24/7 lifestyle is unsustainable and people need to take time out to reflect and recharge. The importance of mental health is also at the forefront of people’s thinking as is the need to connect with all those people, places and experiences that surround us. So where better than books to be able to access all these things and more?
Books can be escapism from the day-to-day as they take us away from ourselves and into as many events, places and people as there are spines on the shelf. They can be informative and emotive; they can be expressive of our fears and feelings and they can be a training ground for life’s challenges. So I would argue that to love books is to love life – to want to experience, absorb and encounter as much of what life, in all its diversity, has to offer.
Q: How will you be celebrating Book Lovers Day? Any tips for our readers on how they can celebrate?
A: It’s a Wednesday so I’ll be working, but I’ll make a point of spending that day reading submitted manuscripts – seeing what creative minds have come up with that they’re willing to share with us. Most may not make it into print – but they are all the result of the creative urge people have to tell stories and make books.
Celebrate Book Lovers Day by finding a new author to read. Go to your local library and choose something new and just give it a go.
Q: What do you find the most rewarding about running an independent publishing house?
A: Ideas and enthusiasm. People still have it in spades which, in a world which seems so relentless in so many ways is encouraging. But I do love the freedom to choose that being an indie brings – if an idea inspires us we can run with it. There’s nothing better than reading a manuscript and thinking ‘I want to be the person who brings that to the world’, and then doing it.
Q: What advice would you give to individuals looking to get into reading?
A: There's a place you can go where books are free – the library. Use it to discover whole worlds at absolutely no cost whatsoever. Then, read what you want to read rather than what you’re told or expected to read. Reading is fun, but while there are some great classic titles out there, the most important thing is to find books that you personally find interesting. It doesn’t matter if these are adult or children’s books, fiction, non-fiction, poetry... as long as it looks interesting to you then give it a go.
Q: What are you reading at the moment?
A: As usual I've got more than one book by the side of the bed so, in no particular order:
Game of Thrones – George R.R. Martin
Maus – Art Spiegelman
The Last Cowboy: A Life of Tom Landry – Mark Ribowsky
Q: Do you have a favourite genre?
A: No. It largely depends on mood. Favourite authors include John Irving and David Kynaston - try grouping those together!
Above: Managing Director, Peter Gill and Publishing Director, Matthew Howard at London Book Fair in 2022
Q: In your opinion, what makes a great book?
A: One that you can’t wait to turn the page but dread finishing.
Q: Do you prefer paperbacks or hardbacks?
A: Paperbacks. I read in bed and have dropped too many books on my nose.
Q: Do you use bookmarks or dog-ear the pages?
A: Bookmarks – although my current bookmark is an Air Baltic boarding pass.
Q: Which books are you looking forward to releasing later this year?
A: Our new board book range gets its first release this autumn, so seeing Albert and Friends, Fletcher and the Seasons and That’s How Much I love you being made available to our youngest ever set of readers is very exciting. But also, in 2024, we’ll be releasing the first titles in our new Cadno imprint for MG and YA. We’ve got some terrific titles lined up, so I’m really looking forward to that.