Reading Party @william1shaw @partyreading @bertsbooks

Since lockdown was imposed I’m sure we’ve all missed attending book festivals and signings, along with the ability to engage face to face with authors, booksellers and like-minded readers. Looking back to the beginning of the year I was looking forward to several booked and anticipated festivals, along with the regular book signings I’d started to attend in Liverpool. In my January monthly round up I noted that my aim for the year,

was to attend (where feasible) as many bookish events as I could. As I don’t drive this means somewhere that is easily and/or not exorbitantly reached by train. I managed quite a few festivals and events last year, so I’m looking forward to trying to emulate that this year. I can happily report that I’ve already managed one this month – of which more later.

Well that aged well!

Luckily, the internet has increasing allowed the attendance at various online events. While these can’t replicate the experience of live attendances, they are more inclusive, in that generally, income, mobility and location cease to be the barriers to access that they once were.

A new, and interesting, online initiative has just been launched by author William Shaw. I was lucky enough to meet in William in January, in what I thought was to be the first of my many aforementioned bookish events. So over to William to tell you all about it.

William Shaw at Waterstones, Liverpool – January 2020

In association with Bert’s Books, I’ve just launched a new project called Reading Party which is a new way to connect readers and writers while we’re stuck at home and no longer able to go to events. 

Like hundreds of writers, I’ve seen my live book events in 2020 disappear. It became clear early on in lockdown that while Facebook Live and Zoom were great tools that we should all be using, they were no substitute for a face-to-face book event in a bookshop, a library or at a book festival. Another thing was obvious too; online events don’t produce much in the way of books sales. 

I’ve been looking for a something to replace the intimacy of live events; a way of helping readers find and buy new books.

This week I’ve launched Reading Party. The idea is we read new work aloud – together. Each participant receives their own PDF extract of a chapter specially chosen in advance by the writer. When read together by all the people in the room, the narrative gradually takes shape. And what makes the event doubly special is the writer is there in the virtual space with them to discuss what inspired the piece they’ve just read and to chat with them afterwards. 

Scary? Maybe… but a lot of fun too. And a really unique way for readers to get insight into a writer’s new work. It’s a way of gaining a privileged view into the world of the writer’s latest book. 

Admission to the room is limited; too many people and you’d lose the intimacy of it. Admission is by ticket or by buying a book with signed bookplate. At the end of each session the author will sign and dedicate bookplates which will be sent out by Bert’s Books with their copy. 

We’ve events coming up with:

Bella Ellis, The Diabolical Bride, Nov 12 7.00pm

Elly Griffiths, The Postscript Murders, Nov 19 7.00pm

C.L. Taylor, Strangers, Nov 26 7.00pm


We’ll also be doing dates with Sarah Hilary, Mark Billingham and Will Dean in the new year.

The site went live yesterday afternoon and tickets are already selling surprisingly well. Please take a look if you can: www.readingparty.co.uk


About Bert’s Books

If you buy a book as part of a reading party, it’ll be supplied by the online retailer Bert’s Books.

Founded by experienced bookseller Alexander ‘Bert’ Call, Bert’s Books has quickly established itself as a place where you can find great books online. Alex believes that the convenience of digital shopping doesn’t have to be a bland one – that it can go hand in hand with the kind of creativity and care you’d expect from a traditional bookseller.

You’ll receive your copy of the book you’ve ordered within 14 days of the reading party event.


This sounds a great initiative – an intimate, interactive, book reading and author signing event.

Make sure you don’t miss out – buy your ticket while you can.

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