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No brainer?

This story is yet another example of how little consideration small independent businesses are given in the UK and the embarrassing gap between how they are treated in France than over here. I used to work for the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) who do a great job at lobbying government on the interests of small businesses. One of the most constant sore points was the favouritism shown to out-of-town-retail-centres (leaving the High Street more and more ghostly as a result) and the depressingly dull homogoneity of our High Streets. In France, chain bookstores are not allowed to discount books more than 5%, which makes a fairer playing field. In the UK, in embarrassing comparison, I can only think of one indie bookshop off the top of my head - Owl Books in Kentish Town. This situation is a symptom of a greater malaise towards small businesses in the UK, where small stores haven't got a snowball in hell's chance most of the time. In France variety and independent spirit are far more important. If only it were over here, I sometimes feel we have become a nation of zombies ruled by a few big businessmen whose tune we almost unquestioningly march to.

By the way, whilst I'm quick to admit that, as a self-interested writer, I would not say no to a publishing deal with a big player, this Friday I shall be at LitCamp from 2.30 p.m., and will be giving a ten-minute talk at 4.20 p.m. on being published by a small publisher and the creative freedom connected with it.

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And in memory of my parents:
Thomas Valentine and Joan Theresa
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