AUTHORS in Suffolk have urged national bookshop chains to do more to support them.

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They say chains including Waterstones and WHSmith located in Suffolk towns should do more to reflect local tastes.

Well-known author Charlie Haylock from Great Cornard, who recently released his fourth book, Sloightly on the Sosh!, said: “The national chains used to put local books up the front but today you are more likely to find them at the back of shops.

“Local managers are told how to arrange displays in their shop by head office. But head office is not in touch with local demand. The autonomy of local managers has been eroded.”

Mr Haylock, who attended around 40 book signings in the run up to Christmas, says he was told by his some managers that the success of his sessions meant his book was a best-seller in the store that week. But his book did not appear in the bestseller book charts.

He added: “Shops like WH Smith and Waterstones take their best-selling charts from national lists – the likes of The Da Vinci Code and Harry Potter. Local authors are being squeezed out.”

“Suffolk people like local books about crafts, history, culture, so let’s put the books where people can see them.”

Retired teacher Pip Wright from Stowmarket, who has published around 20 books mostly on local history, said some national bookstores were open to promoting local writers but “on the whole, the local managers have to take direction from above”.

He added: “This is perhaps one of the only areas where the local independent bookshops have a competitive advantage because they tend to be better at promoting local authors.”

A spokesman for Waterstones said international bestsellers were promoted in their stores “because these are the books people want to buy”.

A spokesman for WH Smith added: “We recognise that our business plays an important role in local communities and seek to ensure that our range offers our customers the books they want.”

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