AUTHORS and writers in the borough have been urged to help independent bookshops survive — by popping in to interact with readers.

Anne Sebba, chairman of the national Society of Authors, told a London literary gathering writers must engage more with local bookshops to ensure they do not fold.

Elaine Powell, an Irish author who lives on Butt Hill Avenue, Prestwich, had her historical novel ‘The Fifth Night’ published by Thomas & Mercer, a division of Amazon Publishing.

She said: “I’ve never dared approach an indie or chain bookshop as I suspect Amazon might clobber me with a handy hardback!

“But I have been to a few readers’ events, and as a writer it is something I find very important because I love talking to readers and finding out what interests them and what they like to read.

“I also love getting questions about my novel and being able to give answers which provide more background.”

Anne Sebba’s speech came as part of Independent Booksellers week, during which a survey found nearly two-thirds of shoppers admitted to browsing in a bookshop before buying a product online.

Ebba Brooks, director of the Prestwich Book Festival said it was time an independent bookstore opened selling new releases – as opposed to second hand tomes – in the borough.

She added: “As director of the Prestwich Book Festival and as someone who loves reading, I’d be delighted if someone took the plunge and opened an independent bookshop in the area.

“Two great local-ish bookshops are The Urmston Bookshop in Urmston, and Ebb and Flo in Chorley and further afield I love Barter Books in Alnwick, Northumberland.”

“All are at the heart of their communities, have good links with local writers and host many readings and book-related events.”

The Fifth Knight was a Kindle serial book which had an online discussion forum for each episode – and Elaine said she finds engaging with global readers via the internet fascinating.

She added: “Readers email me directly with questions and praise — a couple have been so engaged I’m hoping to ask them to be beta-readers for the sequel.

“So I’m getting the same interaction with readers as one would in a real bookshop, but everything is happening virtually.”