The founder of a new literary magazine says people “want to go back to having something they can pick up without needing to be online”.
Stephen Games says his magazine Booklaunch will be like “walking into a book shop, picking up a copy of a book and deciding whether you like the feel of it before buying it”, as it favours book extracts over reviews.
The title is aimed at book enthusiasts and publishing professionals around the UK, says Games.
“We call ourselves the UK showcase for the latest titles,” he says. “We are also tabloid and we put an extract from a single book on a page to give readers the chance to get into the feel of the book they want to read.
“I always find reading book reviews, as nice as they are, are a showcase of the reviewer and you might be more captivated by the reviewer’s writing than the actual book itself.”
The magazine will predominantly appear as an insert in the London Review of Books. About 300 will go to the BBC’s London offices, and more copies will go to literature festivals and publishing houses.
Where distributed, Booklaunch will be free to pick up.
Its first issue, designed by former Time Out art director Pearce Marchbank, will be available from 10 September. It will have an initial print run of 35,000 copies, of which 29,000 will be placed in the LRB.
Games says he hopes to reach a print run of 100,000 free copies after a year, saying he believes this to be “very possible”.
Games said rather than reviewing books, Booklaunch will “offer a platform where the writer of the book can speak directly to the reader”.
“We keep the middle man out,” he said.
“We provide 1,500 words or so where you can get into the flavour of the writing, the pace, the structure of the thoughts and the language – this will give the reader a pretty good idea on whether this is a book they’d want to read.”
All extracts will include a quick response code, which takes the reader to the sale page for an easier and more efficient purchase.
For a fee, authors can take a space in the “looking for publishers” section of the magazine to promote their books, which he says could be seen by publishing companies and agents.
Going head-to-head with industry rivals isn’t an issue for Games.
He says Booklaunch “stands alongside them”, and adds: “In fact our goal is to be as widely read as possible, so we chose to be a free sheet while theirs are subscription magazines.”
Although print circulation may be falling across the industry, Games said: “If you want people to buy the physical book, the best way to promote it is by having something that they can hold.
“Everyone has been getting away from the physical products and we want to go back to having something you can pick up without needing to be online and to have a computer.”