Updated: Mar 7, 2019
Bookworms love to debate how to organise books, right? Over the years I've had mine A-Z by author and by title, separated into categories and all lumped in together, and even organised by colour. Right now, they're organised by publisher. Well, that's not entirely true. My big 5 published books are still A-Z by author because I had them by publisher and it was too hard to remember where books were when I wanted them. With indies, though, my books are organised by publisher, and I have no trouble at all remembering who published what.
This might be purely a personal thing, but I find that with independent publishers I'm more familiar with the publishers themselves so I'm much less likely to forget who published what. If I want to read Nasty Women I know I'm looking for 404 Ink. If I've decided The Good Immigrant is next I'm searching for Unbound.
Currently in my house there are around 500 unread books (my entirely unrealistic TBR is a topic for another post), of which only about 100 are independently published. Before I organised my books like this I had absolutely no idea what my buying habits really were - I felt like I was buying a lot of indie books. I definitely was making an effort to buy mostly indie books, but not until I organised them by publisher did I realise what that actually looked like.
Once again, let me say, we love all publishers. The reason that we choose to put our money into independent publishers is because we see them making huge efforts to represent under represented authors; to publish more BAME authors, more women, more disabled authors, more LGBTQIA authors, more non binary authors. We want the diversity of human experience represented in our literature of whatever genre, and we love the work that small presses do to make that happen. We also love them for the risks they take on books that are too 'weird' or don't fit the right boxes for the big 5.
That being said, organising my books by publisher helped me pick up on the gaps in my TBR. I could see, for example, that while I have a lot of books published by the bigger indies (Faber & Faber, Canongate, Bloomsbury), I have fewer books by smaller or less known indies. For me this just brought home the fact that there are so many phenomenal books published each year in the UK that only a tiny fraction of people get to hear about, and it made me all the more determined to do more and more with the book box and book club to get some of these books into more people's hands. I could also see that translated literature is an area I'd like to buy more of, and that intersectional feminist texts are something I'd really love to expand my library of. Also, if you're participating in our Indie Challenge this year, it's a great way to organise your TBR for that!
Taking the focus entirely off the big 5 (I have two 6 shelf bookcases in my house - one for all my big 5 books and the other just for indies, so I don't even have to be looking at one while thinking about the other) really made me think about why I wanted to support indie publishers, and it made me get excited all over again about all the wonderful things I still have to read and all of the phenomenal publishers I have yet to discover.
Even if your collection of indie books is smaller than mine or just a few books, I think separating it out from the rest could be a really good way to see what you want to do more of in your reading life...
If you need help developing your collection of indie books, we are here for you! We've got hundreds of books in our pre-loved indie bookshop.