small (and independent) is beautiful
Gareth Lovett Jones is promoting his new novel The Wind In The Pylons by bike. The first volume of the book, an ingenious satire on the state of modern Britain, and a ‘sequel’ to the The Wind In The Willows, relates the modern adventures of the much-loved character
Mole who, during Part II of the story, cycles across south-east England from Berkshire to Suffolk. Gareth has recently completed a cycling tour following the same route - stopping at various towns on the way to visit bookstores. He is also visiting bookshops in the Thames Valley area – not too far from home, since he himself lives near the reach of the Thames where Kenneth Grahame made his final home.
Perhaps the first environmental and counter-corporate satire, The Wind In
The Pylons lays bare many aspects of modern life, including our destruction of the natural world and our dependence on the motor car. Gareth is embodying the book’s message that “small is beautiful” by cycling, and by visiting local, independent bookstores. He and his publishers believe that it is in the nation’s surviving network of small and independent bookshops, rather than in the big chains (which in any case are mutually enamoured of
large publishers) that his prospective readers are most likely to be found. “I can honestly say,” says Gareth, “that everyone I met was intrigued by the project, and several people told me they were pleased to find an author involving himself at the selling end.”
It was in this same spirit that Gareth sought a small, independent publisher at the outset. Hilltop is striving to keep the idea of independent publishing of serious fiction alive in the
UK in a period of “rationalisation” in which even the longest-lived and most venerable British publishing houses – John Murray and Harvill Press are recent examples – find themselves being hoovered up and embalmed as mere imprints of conglomerates.