I am very happy to introduce our interview with The Broken Binding! If you don’t know who they are, they sell books, lots of them, including their own incredibly beautiful special editions. Here are sone links below to find them online:
So, you sell books! How did The Broken Binding begin?
Matt; I started by reaching out to a few SFF authors for me to help sell their titles when I worked at Waterstones.
Sean; Me, Matt and Jack (our customer services manager) all worked together and often talked about the way we’d go about running our own bookshop.
Matt; I also had a manager who encouraged me to pursue my own goals for the SFF market. I’d purchased some Yu-Gi-Oh cards with the idea of starting a games-night that never came together. I found out I had a few rare finds and decided to sell these online. £12 became £300, enough profit to purchase some books in bulk. I started the early work of setting up The Broken Binding in late 2020 and managed to launch in early 2021 with family and friends helping to set up the website and wrap orders.
Sean; Matt asked me to design a logo for him which led to me helping out as much as I could as TBB started to grow.
What are some personal and/or professional highlights from being booksellers?
Matt; Seeing how fast we’ve grown! I can’t believe it! It’s been fantastic building such a supportive community and finding our people! People who share the same tastes and likes as us!
Sean; A major highlight for me has always been talking with book-lovers. It’s awesome being able to recommend titles based on peoples likes. It’s even better when you receive feedback that they loved the recommendation! The joy of bookselling is in helping people to discover and rediscover amazing books and authors.
Matt; It was also amazing producing our first special edition with The Desert Prince by Peter V. Brett! I couldn’t believe it when I was holding the book in my hands once it arrived and seeing our company name printed in the front! It was a really special moment.
Sean; It was also a personal and professional highlight when Matt confirmed we had secured special editions of Joe Abercrombie’s books!
How have you found being a part of the book community, talking and working with authors, customers etc?
Sean; A massive part of our company has been our customer service department. This has led to a lot of wonderful communication with our customers. I miss working in a physical bookshop but being able to talk with book-lovers from around the world is a major bonus! It brings us a lot of job satisfaction and makes all of the time and effort worthwhile.
Matt; Also, being able to talk to authors and others from different parts of the industry has been really cool. I’ve learnt a lot in such a short amount of time.
Sean; I don’t think I will ever get used to having casual messages and chats with some of our favourite authors and publishers!
Matt; I agree with that so much!
Within your large collection of SFF and horror books, you also stock a lot of Indie Published work. Have you always stocked indie books and how important do you think it is to highlight these writers?
Matt; I’ve built strong friendships off the back of our efforts with indie titles. This is an incredibly important part of the publishing industry. This is why I have been putting so much time and effort into TBB Press. We want to offer indie authors an alternative to self-publishing, kickstarter campaigns and traditional publishing. We want to be the hybrid that offers opportunities alternative to what some other publishers are able to offer.
Sean; Matt has supported Indie Published books from the very start and it’s been an honour to have taken a lead role in the growth of this area of our business. It can get overwhelming to stay on top of all of the submissions we receive but it’s always worth the time and effort to provide a platform. Especially when we witness an effect on the author’s growth. We are trying to help cultivate book-lover’s next new favourites.
As booksellers, you must know a thing or two about marketing books. Do you have any bits of advice for new, especially indie, authors who are trying to get their name out there?
Matt; The best advice is to be a part of the community – a social media presence really helps. Not to push yourself and your work constantly but to actually be involved in conversations. To listen and learn about tastes, peoples likes and dislikes. To speak about your own. To find common interests but also try not to cater to one specific audience either.
Sean; Be as informed as you can but still take chances. Learn lessons. Also have patience and trust in your decisions. Good decisions don’t need marketing, they find their audience and those book-lovers share their passion from there. Presentation makes a difference. ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ is a true statement for not underestimating a title but the details in branding do matter. You can re-package a book as long as the contents hold up but a beautiful book looks amazing on your bookshelf.
Matt; It helps to get reading copies out to people without an expectation of a review. Have trust in your work to be appreciated and shouted about on its own merits. It’s also worth taking the risk of placing your titles up on discounts such as one week 99p offers. It can really help gain a readership.
Alright, onto the questions about books! What are some of your favourite recent reads?
Matt; I recently finished The Jasad Heir by Sara Hashem and really enjoyed it!
Sean; I’m loving The Bloodsworn Saga by John Gwynne and I can’t wait for the next book!
Have you always been big readers? When did you start reading? And what books/series did you read over and over again?
Sean; My Dad encouraged my reading when I was really young, my favourite being Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. I then rediscovered my passion in my early-teens with the Sherlock Holmes series by Arthur Conan Doyle. I read all the time now.
Matt; I struggled to read growing up due to being dyslexic. I forced my way through The Hobbit and Lord Of The Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. I loved them! After a few years my reading improved. I discovered Simon Scarrow and Robin Hobb as I got a little older.
Sean; I try to focus on reading books I’ve never read before. I do find myself re-reading A Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams over and over again though.
Matt; I constantly re-read The Name Of The Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. It inspired the name of our business.
If you could be any fictional character, who would you be and why?
Matt; All of my favourite characters are way too dark! I wouldn’t want to be any of them ha!
Sean; I’m probably already far too similar to Marvin The Paranoid Android…
This might be a hard question… but, which of your special editions are you most proud of?
Sean; The Faithful And The Fallen by John Gwynne will always be our proudest as the first reprints we were able to commission.
Matt; It felt special for it to be John as well. I have been such a big fan of his work and he has helped me so much since the start of this whole adventure! I’m so glad that we were able to do specials of his books! He deserved to be the first.