In 2011 we ran the first ever Sober October campaign in support of local independent bookshops. The premise was simple: give up the booze for a day, a week or (if you’re brave enough) the whole month of October and save your beer money to spend in your local bookshop. The main aim of the campaign was to raise public awareness of the large number of indie bookshop closures and remind people to get back into their bookshops and support smaller businesses. We had the idea two weeks before 1st October so with very limited resources (only one person with about 5 hours per week to run this) we set about initiating a campaing on a shoestring. Here’s how we did it:

Campaign Website

Spent a couple of days setting up a campaign website using the WordPress CMS. This included a simple form so that people could upload their profile and nominate an indie bookshop they want to support. We made the form semi-automated so that we only had to moderate the submissions once they came in and we made sure to add categories from the start so we had some flexibility in re-jigging the site later.

Spread the word

With our website ready, we spread the word via Facebook and Twitter. We created a Twitter hashtag #booksnotbeer so people could join the conversation and this was particularly successful. The word spread far and wide and we began to get submissions from all over the UK plus Germany, the USA, Australia, Spain and France.

Industry news

We also got a piece onto the Bookseller’s blog to announce the campaign to the booktrade. This, and the activity on Twitter, prompted a piece in Australia’s equivalent, The Bookseller and Publisher.

Twitter dialogue

Come 1st October the submissions to the website stopped and people started to use Twitter and our #booksnotbeer hashtag to give updates on their progress. This was the fun bit as participants became ever more imaginative with their Tweets. Some even posted photos of their non-alcoholic beverages and tweeted pictures of books they’d bought with their saved beer money.

Retox event

To end the campaign we’ve organised a drinks evening on 1st November at Treadwells bookshop in Bloomsbury. It hath been dubbed “Indiependence Day” to remind us why we did this in the first place. Stay tuned for pics and a further update. And if you’d like to attend, let us know!