March 22, 2022

Book Aid For Ukraine auctions off publishing goodies raising relief funds


The publishing industry continues to band together against Putin, launching Book Aid for Ukraine. Organised by Hayley Steed, literary agent at the Madeleine Milburn Agency, Book Aid for Ukraine auctioned off over 350 donated lots, with all the money raised going to British Ukrainian Aid, who support people suffering from the war and humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, and offer assistance to the vulnerable.

Steed told the Guardian she was inspired by the Books for Vaccines charity auction, organised by author and editor Phoebe Morgan last year to raise money for Care International, who are tackling vaccine inequality in poorer nations. She said:

“I was watching the news about Ukraine and feeling powerless, and wondering what we could do as a books industry and community. Phoebe’s auction was hugely successful and I thought we might be able to do something similar for Ukraine.

“So many people are feeling the same way and it seemed like this was the perfect chance to direct that energy into doing something positive.”

After putting out a call on social media for contributions on February 27, the response was overwhelming. Within a week she had 200 items donated and only 8 days later she was able to get bidding started on March 7.

The auction ended on Sunday 20th March, selling off 358 items. Among the lots bought was a specially created artwork by Axel Scheffler that went for £1,750; a signed, limited edition of Dave Grohl’s memoir (£500); naming a character in Sir Lenny Henry’s new book (£475); lunch at the Ritz with Pillars of the Earth author Ken Follett (£1,100); a signed book and 45-minute tarot reading from astrologer Jessica Adams, (£2,530), critiques and advice from various respected literary agents and editors, and a 1945 first edition of Nancy Mitford’s novel The Pursuit of Love (£400).

The success of the auction has surprised and delighted Steed. She told the Guardian last week “it would be fabulous to get to £50,000” but that target has been substantially exceeded with the total raised standing at £71,579. This is expected to rise as Pan Macmillan pledged that for items donated by their own authors and staff, they would match funds on the highest bids.

In gratitude of the support, Steed told The Bookseller this week:

“I just want to say a huge thank you to all of the people who pulled together these incredible items for auction, and to everyone who bid, spread the word and supported… A particular shout out to George Morley who really rallied within Pan Macmillan to bring together some of these biggest items — three of the [most popular items] came from her. It’s far exceeded my expectations and hopefully will make a real difference to support everyone suffering from the tragedy in Ukraine.”

Although the auction is now closed, it is still possible to donate money to the cause via JustGiving.

Nikki Griffiths is the managing director of Melville House UK.