Heywood Hill bookshop in Mayfair launches prize to give a pandemic hero free hardback books for life
Do you know any book lovers who deserves to win a special prize? If so, you can nominate them for Shelf Improvement for Life, a prize draw being launched today by book shop Heywood Hill. The winner will receive a free hardbook book a month for life, wherever they are, anywhere in the world. “We want to shine a ray of light amid the gloom in what’s been a pestilential year”, says book shop director Nicky Dunne. “We think the world needs cheering up. A lot of people, especially those having to shield, are feeling isolated and we know what a huge difference receiving a well-chosen book in a parcel in the post can mean to them.”
Members of the public are invited to nominate their personal pandemic heroes for the prize. “Who do you know who deserves to win?” Dunne says. “It could be someone who has kept the family show on the road, a friend who has struggled, the nurse who looked after you, the neighbour who delivers groceries, the parent who has bravely home-schooled, or a child stuck at home who loves to read. Anyone who needs a bit of bookish sunshine in their lives. We want to hear about deserving book-lovers from all over the world”.
The bijou Mayfair bookshop, where Love in a Cold Climate author Nancy Mitford worked behind the till in the 1940s, was inspired to launch the prize after seeing a huge rise in its subscription service during lockdown. “We now have thousands of subscribers and the incredible growth of this unique service has saved our business in what’s been a challenging year,” says Dunne, whose delightfully old-fashioned shop premises can currently accommodate two customers at a time. The idea for a subscription service originated in the 1970s when an American woman called Patricia Lovejoy rang the shop and asked whether she could pay to receive a book a month. “Today people of all ages, nationalities and sensibilities in the English speaking world over 50 countries subscribe, as well as Patricia, who still receives a book a month,” says Dunne.
The service, which starts at £125 for a curated selection of 6 paperbacks a year, and goes up to £1,150 for forty hardbacks a year, includes one-to-one consultations on favourite authors and topics, as well as the thrill of unwrapping parcels which come in beribboned brown paper packaging – a far cry from the usual one-click buy. “ To enter, visit heywoodhill.com and nominate your pandemic hero. The winner will be drawn from a hat “probably by an author”, says Dunne, at random in November and they will be notified thereafter.
The prize draw ends at midnight on Sunday 8 November 2020.