The Left Book Club

Help fund a network of real-world book clubs to debate the ideas of the next generation of progressive writers

They did it!


On 17th Nov 2016 we successfully raised

£6,785

with

147 backers

in

29 days



Hello, we're the Left Book Club

We publish lively ground-breaking progressive books on many topics including the future of the Left, poverty in Britain, radical politics in Greece, the inequality of the housing market, women activists and the political power of music. We're non-aligned and draw on the multiple traditions of the Left.

We need your help to publish more, and to set up a network of free real-life book clubs around the UK to discuss our books and other people's. Our clubs will be held wherever they can: bookshops, cafes, houses, parks, workplaces, union premises, libraries, colleges, universities etc. They'll be free and open to all without the need to join anything. And they'll happen in the real world, not online: a real-life social network.

We launched in 2015 but are based on the original Left Book Club of the 1930's and 40's: a massively popular progressive social movement which published books by writers like George Orwell and set up book clubs all over the country.  It's credited with helping Labour's 1945 landslide victory and the development of the Welfare State. 

Our aim:

  • Find the next generation of diverse progressive writers
  • Create a network of real-word book clubs to debate their ideas and other left-leaning texts

We're honoured that Noam Chomsky, one of the world's foremost thinkers, has leant his voice to support the Left Book Club and this crowdfunder.  He says we're "laying the groundwork for effective practice... I'd like to urge all of you to join in these very promising and critically important efforts." Please watch his comments in full here.

Why left-wing books and left book clubs?

The 1945 Labour government achieved so much in part because there was an educated population who wanted an NHS, social security, decent housing - and were prepared to argue about it and convince people in their communities by self-educating fellow workmates, people in pubs, at schools etc because they had the arguments and facts at their disposal. And the Left Book Club was a big factor in that. 

Today, with populist demagogues on the march the Left once more needs to become an educated, grassroots social movement because we cannot rely on the mainstream media. The Right educates its supporters every day via the Express, Mail, Sun, Telegraph, Sky News etc. So, to fight back against intolerance, nationalism, racism and inequality we need a Left book club. And for maximum clout it needs to happen in the real world, not just online.

Becoming a member:

Left Book Club membership costs £40 and gets you four of our books per year plus exclusive invitations to members-only talks and events. But attending a Left Book Club book group requires no membership and is free. See our REWARDS section for exclusive crowdfunder-only membership offers.

Titles published in 2015-16

New titles for 2016-2017

What we want to do with your help:

  • Hire a part-time Outreach Editor to run our clubs and website -- our first non-volunteer staff member
  • Build a new website to support our clubs and be the hub of our activities
  • Discover and mentor the voices of the new left 
    • Open calls for articles responding to our current books
    • Annual essay competition for unpublished writers
    • Active search for a wide range of diverse views
  • Take the debate into the world
    • Build a network of real-world book clubs and other live events for members: a live progressive social network
    • Work with bookshops, libraries, colleges, universities, trade unions, cafes and other potential book club venues
    • Build the clubs around our books and other great progressive texts
  • Develop original digital content around our books' themes for our website:
    • Author and other interviews, debates, short articles from many contributors, recorded talks and other video, newsletters, podcasts, book club reports
  • Create strong partnerships and share content with other progressive sites and enterprises
  • Connect with new audiences and authors via social media

REWARDS

We're a collective and this is reflected in the rewards we're offering for this crowdfunder. Each director has provided a unique contribution from their particular circle or skillset . While our list of rewards may seem more eclectic and lengthy than those of a conventional crowdfunder, we think we've come up with some great, unusual and exclusive perks -- perfect Christmas presents! 

Everyone who donates is invited to our big book party in the new year. 

Find more details about some of our prizes below:

 


£5 Martin Rowson original cartoon!

Martin Rowson, 'St. Theresa', 2016, original artwork, signed. Pay £5 only to enter a draw to win this original cartoon from one of Britain's foremost political cartoonists! At the end of the crowdfunder we'll put names into a hat and draw out one lucky winner. This is an unmissable opportunity to support us and perhaps win some highly collectable art...


Left Book Club Badge, 25mm

The fashion detail of the season: your very own Left Book Club badge, exclusive to this crowdfunder. Show your support for us in style: £10


Left Book Club Standard  

Tote bag 42x38cm, cotton. The very thing to swing your pamphlets in. Exclusive to this crowdfunder and yours for £20.


Left Book Club Special  

Left Book Club Special Edition Tote Bag 42x38cm, cotton. In radical red. We're only making 100 of these for the crowdfunder: £40.


Set of 10 PM Press books

A set of 10 great books from our lovely friends at PM Press, plus Left Book Club standard bag and badge: £100.  PM Press are radical publishers based in Oakland, California, USA. Find out more about them here: www.pmpress.org.


Peter Kennard, '5.00am at Grunwicks' 

1977,  signed vintage photographic print, 24 x 16cm by Peter Kennard, the UK's foremost political artist.


Jeremy Deller, 'The Battle of Orgreave'

2001,  an album of 20 signed, 6x4 inches  photographic prints of his video work commemorating the violent confrontation on 18 June 1984 between police and pickets at a British Steel Corporation coking plant in Orgreave, South Yorkshire. Jeremy was winner of the Turner Prize in 2004. - SOLD


Knife, 'Marx and his Editor'

2016, original drawing, signed, 29.7x21cm, light fast inks.  Knife is best known for his Private Eye cartoons: £350


Ralph Steadman Poster

Ralph Steadman, 'Alice and the Paranoids', poster, signed, 51x76cm - SOLD


Richard Hamilton Print

Richard Hamilton (1922-2011), 'Free the South Kensington 3 / Drop the charges. Free Raphael', 1998, digital print poster, 85x60cm

Richard Hamilton designed and signed poster. One of three campaign posters against museum charging by the three South Kensington Museums, the V&A, the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum, May 1998.


Personalised spousal apology video 

In the doghouse? Create a personalised video apology with Britain's #1 animated comedy relationship counsellors, The Tired Parents. Send a photo of yourself and the Tired Parents will transform it into a multi-purpose apology video for your partner.  Or send in your partner's photo and make your partner apologise to you... 

See their work here: www.tiredparents.co.uk


Hand-made protest banner 

Alice Kilroy, one of the UK's premier protest banner makers, will work with you to create a banner for your particular cause.  See her beautiful work at www.alicekilroy.com


Long weekend in London,  2 nights and 3 days

Lovely maisonette in Willesden Junction,  NW10. Close to the Bakerloo line for access to Oxford Circus, National Gallery, Regent's Park, plus a mainline and overground that takes you to the National Library, Kew Gardens, Stratford Westfield shopping centre.  The maisonette is best suited to a couple as it has one double bedroom, but space for friends on the settee or an airbed on the platform/mezzanine up the glass stairs. Double bedroom, sitting room, dining room, kitchen, bathroom, library in the box room.


Long weekend in Southsea, 2 nights and 3 days

The sea front and shingle beach are within walking distance. Albert road has lots of little shops and restaurants. There are lots of historic sites to see and make sure you stroll along the seafront whatever the weather. The Isle of Wight can be reached by ferry or hovercraft. The Spinnaker Tower at Gunwharf Quays offers a wonderful view on a fine day as well as shopping opportunities. The historic dockyard with Nelson’s Victory and the wonderful Mary Rose exhibition are a must see. Bedroom, front room, kitchen, bathroom (The Confessional!), spare fold-out bed, courtyeard garden, parking for one car.


Who are we?

We're a non-aligned, volunteer-run, not for profit collective made up of activists, writers, publishers, booksellers and trade unionists who, in November 2015, relaunched the Left Book Club, an influential subscription-based literary and social movement of the 1930's.  We work in partnership with Pluto Press. Like the organisers of the first Left Book Club, we believe that publishing great radical books -- and facilitating conversation about the ideas they contain -- are vital for the development of progressive politics in Britain.  Find out more at our current site: www.leftbookclub.com.

Our directors are: Hank Roberts (Trade Unionist, Chair), Jan Woolf (Writer, Convenor), Neil Faulkner (Archaeologist & Historian), Conrad Landin (Journalist), Anna Minton (Writer, Journalist, Academic), Peter Pendle (Trade Unionist), Brendan Montague (Journalist), Nik Górecki (Bookseller), Alice Kilroy (Banner Maker, retired teacher & bookkeeper).

The original Left Book Club

Established in 1936 by Victor Gollancz, the original LBC was a publishing group that exerted a strong socialist influence in the UK and is credited with helping the Labour Party win its landslide victory in 1945.  Books were aimed at subscribers, to create a movement, but could be bought individually from bookshops and newsagents.  The LBC published one book a month, as well as an influential newsletter, held an annual rally and encouraged subscribers to create their own local book clubs to discuss each book.  By 1939 there were 1,500 such groups and ‘socials’ around the UK where socialists, liberals, communists, feminists, environmentalists and other progressives from all walks of life met to talk books and much more .   Writers and books included George Orwell (The Road to Wigan Pier), Arthur Koestler, Stephen Spender, Edgar Snow (Red Star Over China), Clement Attlee and Clifford Odets.  Membership peaked at 57,000.  The original LBC ceased publishing in 1948, after its ideas had helped create the post-war welfare state.  We relaunched it in November 2015.

Original Left Book Club titles

What we'd do with extra funds if we surpass our target:

  • Make our Outreach Editor full-time, not part-time
  • Extend our Outreach Editor’s contract beyond one year
  • Publish more than four books per year
  • More live events, more video and audio on the site

How we plan to fund the LBC in the future:

The LBC is currently funded by members' subscriptions, book sales and donations.  This crowdfunder is a one-off to get the Digital Editor in place for a year and to relaunch our site and other digital platforms.  We’ll need to find an ongoing way to finance the editor’s position.  We hope to do this by increased subscriptions, grants and an annual ticketed live fundraising event.