John Bird, the founder of The Big Issue, is launching a new literary magazine that will be released every quarter that aims to start, as he put it, a ‘reading revolution’. Called The Chapter-Catcher, the magazine will include chapters, extracts and poems from a wide variety of writers. Chapter-Catcher will launch on June 13 with a conversation between Bird and British writer, actor, and comedian, Stephen Fry.
Speaking to The Bookseller, Bird said: “By going through bookshops and libraries we’re trying to increase footfall into those places. What we want is for everybody to read.” Bird added that the world of publishing has been very receptive to his new magazine and more and more people are becoming involved. He hopes the magazine will help readers discover books they’d otherwise never hear of.
Bird appeared unexpectedly at the Publishers Association parliamentary reception on Tuesday, where he handed out copes of the first issue. He told the audience: “It’s just a load of chapters and the idea is to get people to read wider and deeper. It is taking people on a journey.” He finished by saying to the audience: “Go to your bookshops, they need us.”
The magazine’s publisher, Phil Ryan, said they would also be hosting events, creating reading groups, and holding workshops. He said they would be “doing everything we can to bring books to life.”
“Giving people access to the books that matter is at the heart of what we’re doing, bringing them into schools, prison libraries, local bookshops – pretty much everywhere. More than reading, we’re forming communities, supporting local businesses and creating a social echo to save our high street, and to open our minds,” he said.
Each magazine will be priced at £4.99 and will include chapters from a number of genres, from fiction, to classic fiction, to non-fiction, as well works that are still in progress. The magazine will be on sale in bookshops but free copies will be available in prisons, schools, libraries and community groups. Charities that sell the magazine will even get to keep 50% of the sales profits.
The first issue will feature writings from Stephen Fry, Max Porter, and Richard Wiseman, as well as works from writers of the past such as Virginia Woolf and Franz Kafka. It also includes an essay from a prison inmate about life inside jail, which Bird described as “incredible”.