A new website selling books from Northern Ireland online
‘It’s books about Northern Ireland, books written in Northern Ireland and books by people from Northern Ireland,’ explains Wesley Johnston.
So if you want a copy of Stuart Neville's new bestseller, a treatise on pearl diving in the Bann or a book self-published by your uncle ten years ago you will be able to find it at www.booksni.com. Or at least that's the theory behind the new books website.
Wesley and Malcolm Johnston are the founders of Colourpoint, a Northern Irish publisher, and the creators of www.booksni.com. The company started life as an educational publisher, but over the years has gradually expanded to include non-fiction, transport books and self-publishing.
The more the Johnstons got involved in the literary side of publishing, the more they realised the need in Northern Ireland for a ‘space for books’.
‘There is so much good stuff coming out of Northern Ireland. So many good books that aren’t necessarily always getting the exposure that they need,’ Wesley explains. ‘All the local publishers have different websites but there is nothing coherent. We wanted to have somewhere that has all the books being published in or about Northern Ireland in one place. People can go there and read about these books, explore them and buy them if they want.’
The Johnstons hope to eventually have books available on Books NI from every publisher and author in Northern Ireland. They admit that it is going to take a while to accomplish that, ‘It’s hundred and hundreds of books,’ Wesley points out.
So far local publishers have been enthusiastic about the project. Many of them have set up meetings to discuss further collaboration in developing the site further. Authors too have made enquiries about how to get their books listed.
‘The authors that we have been working most closely with have been the authors that have self-published books,’ Wesley says. ‘They have a real investment.’
Malcolm points out that is the real strength of the site. On Books NI local and self-published authors will have a chance to see their books listed equally with established, even international, writers like Stuart Neville. And as Malcolm points out, 'The internet is international. It doesn't matter whether you are in Papua New Guinea or Los Angeles.'
Books NI is not, however, just a Northern Ireland-centric version of Amazon. In addition to the catalogue of books from and about Northern Ireland the site will also host reviews, author interviews and forums where participants can talk about books, writers groups and the publishing business.