May 3, 2019

‘More than lip service’: Round Table Books opens in Brixton


Brixton: home to a new, diverse bookseller. (via Ungry Young Man, licensed under CC BY 2.0)

This week, Knights Of Publishing, the inclusive publisher set up in 2017 by Aimée Felone and David Stevens and committed to ensuring “the books we publish give windows into as many worlds as possible,” has opened Round Table Books in Brixton.

The shop will continue expanding KOP’s mission to “[Create] quality content for kids—with as many perspectives as we can squeeze into the making of each book.”

Like its sister publisher, it will lead with the hashtag #ReadTheOnePercent—an allusion to a CLPE study that revealed only 1% of children’s books published in 2017 featured a BAME main character.

Round Table will stock a diverse range of books by children’s publishers from the UK and Ireland. The shop, which began as a pop-up in Brixton Arcade to mark the publisher’s one-year anniversary, is now a permanent fixture, and officially opened on May 2 with an accompanying Twitter announcement. Head bookseller, the published poet and former Forbidden Planet employee Khadija Osman, wrote this week in The Bookseller:

I’m hoping that, both for the marginalised and the majority; the people who might one day suffer oppression and the ones who might fall to being oppressors; our shelves can show a true reflection of our world today and the world we want to see in the future.

It’s just the latest in a series of innovative moves by the publisher, which also saw them release For Every One, Jason Reynolds’ poem—originally performed at the Kennedy Centre at the unveiling of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial—in 2018, in partnership with fellow indie publishers (and Melville House friends), 404 Ink.

In an industry too often guilty of paying lip service to increasing diversity and regionality (as Alison Flood reported for The Guardian earlier this year), Knights Of is setting an admirable example for others to follow. Indeed, as Khadija Osman concludes in her piece:

…my biggest hope from this endeavour is that very soon Round Table Books won’t just be considered a ‘inclusive’ bookshop but simply…. a bookshop.

Click here for more information about Knights Of and Round Table Books.



Tom Clayton is publishing executive at Melville House UK.