Earlier this month, author MA Sieghart revealed in The Guardian that, according to statistics she commissioned from Nielsen Book Research, the top 10 best-selling female authors’ readership is only 19% men. The top 10 best-selling male authors’ readership is much more evenly split, with 55% men and 45% women. So how do you get people to read more women? Scotland-based bookseller Rachel Wood has an idea: her bookstore Rare Birds Books, opening in Edinburgh on August 6, will stock only books written by women.
Rare Birds Books is the culmination of Wood’s longtime mission of supporting female writers and viewpoints. “Through university I noticed the reading lists were always dominated by male authors,” Wood told The Sunday Post. “The lens you would see the whole world through was always from men, basically. I was always trying to push things in the opposite direction. So I started asking, ‘What if the lens we viewed everything through was created by women authors?’”
This lightbulb moment led Wood to start the Rare Birds Book Club, a monthly subscription book club completely composed of contemporary novels written by women. For Wood, it’s a way for women to come together to read female authors, as well as men to expand their reading horizons. During the pandemic, Rare Birds Book Club grew much quicker than Wood imagined; overall sales increased by 204% from January 2020 to 2021. Still, 97% of Rare Birds’s customers are women. Now, Wood is hoping an in-person storefront will draw more types of readers—including men.
“The bookstore space is going to be really beautiful and really welcoming so I’m hoping it’s going to draw in more people, who want to poke in their heads and check it out,” Wood told The Sunday Post. “Plus, once you’re in the bookstore would you really notice, unless we pointed it out, that all the books were by female authors? Probably not. You’re just picking up a book that looks interesting to you. I’m hoping we can really open the eyes of a lot of readers.”