Zadie Smith and Nick Laird sign new book in Kilburn

Zadie Smith and husband Nick Laird sign copies of their new book Wierdo in Offside Books, Willesden

Zadie Smith and husband Nick Laird sign copies of their new book Weirdo in Offside Books, Willesden - Credit: Offside Books

Zadie Smith and Nick Laird popped into a Kilburn bookstore to sign copies of their new children's book.

The married writers did not meet fans on this visit to Offside Books, in Willesden Lane, on Friday (May 7) as there were fears by the bookshop owners they "might not be able to control social distancing".

Award-winning novelist Zadie, and her husband Nick, an acclaimed poet, have created Weirdo, a picture book story for three to seven-year-olds about the quiet power of being different. 

Fatma Kayhan, who runs Offside Books with her husband Mark Nessfield, said: "Zadie and Nick signed their children's book titled Weirdo.

"It wasn't a public event this time. The decision was made because of Covid-19; we might not be able to control social distancing in a small shop. 

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"It is still important to have Zadie supporting our bookshop in this way.

"We are already grateful to her and her husband for patronising the bookshop.

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"Of course Zadie is already famous for promoting the virtues of Kilburn and NW6.

"It is a hard time for any bookshop to engage with readers and maintain their existence."

Mark and Fatma launched Offside Books in 2014 as a second hand bookstore.

After four years they realised that it was uneconomic to continue with just second-hand books and started stocking discount new books which they said "made a big difference", as the store now stocks new, discount and second-hand books. 

They sell children's books, have a black writers section and also stock books that feature the Middle East, India and the Americas. 

There is also a wide range of genres from history, art, gay and lesbian, politics, smart ideas, worldwide literature, classics, language, music, and women studies.

"Around our neighbourhood there are some brilliant book lovers and they like our selections," Fatma added.

"A changing demographic in the locality, and a new influx of young people has started to make a real and positive difference to our store. 

"Despite many obstacles, we think visiting bookshops physically is good for people's knowledge, health and finding surprise books when browsing shelves is very important.

"Especially for children being actually in the bookshop and choosing the book they like is enormously enjoyable for them and us."

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