26 April 2021

Books on the Hill (BOTH) Open Dyslexia Kickstarter Project

And now for something a little bit different... I'm joining the Random Things Tours blogtour for the new Books on the Hill kickstarter.

If I have a purpose on this blog (and, let's face it, on a bad day it can be hard to tell) it's to share my love of reading and of what I read. Reading for me is an escape, a space to call my own, a window into other worlds - a thing that can help me empathise with others, or simply get me out of myself when I need to. 

I feel enormously privileged to be able to take part in the world of books, comics and magazines. 

It's a cruel fact that that world isn't equally accessible to everyone. There are a number of different reasons for that, and today's blogpost highlights an effort to overcome one of them - the lack of accessible books for adults with dyslexia. You may already be aware of Books on the Hill as a bookshop - well here they are, as a publisher, BOTH Press, tackling that problem. 

Books on the Hill is Alistair Sims. He is the manager and commander-in-chief of the bookshop (though his partner, Chloe and his mother, Joanne, who set up the bookshop with him, may disagree with this description ). Alistair is dyslexic and has a PhD in history and archaeology. Alistair could not read until he was 13 and is passionate about helping anyone who has difficulty reading. He is the driving force behind BOTH Press and has been involved in every step in this project, from finding award winning authors to contribute, the cover design, and the road to publication, including setting up for distribution. 

Alistair writes

'Books on the Hill is passionate about helping people who have dyslexia, or have any difficulty with reading, to access the joy of good fiction. There are great books out now for children with dyslexia, with specialist publishers like Barrington Stokes and mainstream publishers such as Bloomsbury doing their part. However, there are sadly very few books for adults with Dyslexia in traditional mass market publishing. 

Dyslexia is a learning difference that primarily affects reading and writing skills. The NHS estimates that up to 1 in every 10 people in the UK have some form of dyslexia, while other dyslexic organisations believe 1 in 5 and more than 2 million people in the UK are severely affected. 

Dyslexia does not stop someone from achieving. There are many individuals who are successful and are dyslexic. Famous actors, such as Orlando Bloom; Entrepreneurs like Theo Paphitis, and many, many more, including myself. All of who believe dyslexia has helped them to be where they are now. Dyslexia, though, as I can attest to, does not go away. You don’t grow out of it, and so we are acknowledging that and trying to without being patronising, create a selection of books that will be friendly to people who deal with dyslexia every day. 

Since we started the project in 2019, Books on the Hill have had many adults customers with dyslexia come in shop the asking for something accessible to read. For example, one customer asked if we stocked well known novels in a dyslexic friendly format. Unfortunately we had to say no, as they just don’t exist. We explained what we are trying to achieve by printing our own and she replied: 

“I have been reading [children dyslexic] books but they are a bit childish so am really happy I have found your company!! Thanks so much again and thank you for making such a helpful and inclusive brand - it means a lot." 

This response is not isolated. We have had many adults come in to the shop with dyslexia, who do not read or struggle to read and they they believe dyslexic friendly books would have real impact on their reading for pleasure.'

So what are Books on the Hill doing?

They're making exciting good quality fiction accessible to a minority group currently not provided for by today’s UK traditional mass book market and providing a new tool for booksellers to use in their drive to increase diversity and inclusion.

The immediate aim is to publish and print 8 titles of dyslexic friendly books for adults. The longer term goal is to continue publishing good quality adult fiction to produce a wide range of books for people who have challenges when reading. 

Who are they working with?

Books on the Hill have persuaded many great authors to contribute to this project. All are brilliant authors and are names I am sure you will recognise. 

  • Stan Nicholls, the author of many novels and short stories but is best known for the internationally acclaimed Orcs: First Blood series. 
  • Steven Savile, the fantasy, horror and thriller writer, now lives in Stockholm whose father is a customer of Books on the Hill 
  • The horror duo that is Thana Niveau and John Llewellyn Probert, both well established and engaging authors and also residents of Clevedon. 
  • Adrian Tchaikovsky is an Arthur Clark Award winner and best known for his series Shadows of the Apt, and for his novel Children of Time. 
  • Steven Poore is the highly acclaimed fantasy writer who Alistair first met on his first fantasy convention in Scarborough. 
  • We finish the Magnificent Seven with Joel Cornah, who also has dyslexia, and with whom Alistair participated in a podcast on dyslexia for the Clevedon Literature 2020 'Festival in the Clouds'. 

As I'm sure you'll agree this is a really worthwhile project - and an exciting publishing project as well. 'How can I get involved?' I hear you ask.

How YOU Can Get Involved

Well... Books on the Hill are launching a Kickstarter beginning April 2nd 2021 for 30 days, with the focus on paying for the printing of the books and giving them starting capital to continue to print more titles. 

There will be many ways you can be involved in this. You can contribute on the Kickstarter website itself, here

There will be a number of different options of donating money, in which you will receive rewards, such as ebooks of a title or a paperback of one or more of the titles to be published. In addition a unique reward from authors who are contributing to the project. 

You can still contribute outside the kickstarter. Books on the Hill are happy to receive your help in the shop, where they will have a donation box available.

You can, of course, look out for the books and order or preorder them, once they are available. And recommend or review them, too, in due course, to ensure that they are known by as wide an audience as possible.

Who else is helping?

Books on the Hill are collaborating with Chrissey Harrison, who is also an local author and member of North Bristol Writers Group. Chressey and Alistair have designed the book-covers together, with Chrissey creating the finished product we now look on at awe with. Nearly all the design work has been done by Chrissey, and she is also in charge of the printing process, typesetting. BOTH are so proud and appreciative to be working with her. 

Special mention must go to Harrison Gates, who runs Nine Worthy, and who has dedicated his time and expertise to produce the print catalogue  free of cost. 

Joanne Hall is an author, editor and formerly the Chair of BristolCon, Bristol’s premier (and only) science fiction and fantasy convention. BOTH give a huge thank you to Jo for proof reading the stories free of cost. 

Vicky Brewster has edited all the new stories by the authors. She specialises in editing and beta reading long-form fiction. Vicky is a great professional editor.


You can find Books on the Hill at their website, on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. And the Kickstarter is, again, here


  1. Thanks so much for supporting this project x

  2. Anne

    Thank you! This just seems such a good idea!