Booksellers Association

Bookshop Day 2016

October 18th, 2016 by rachel_mccann | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Bookshop Day 2016
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bookshop-dayThe Bookseller’s Association announced back in August that it would be holding the inaugural Bookshop Day across the UK and Ireland on Saturday 8th October. The aim was to bring readers, who may have been swayed by online retailers such as Amazon, back into brick and mortar bookstores.

Over 2000 bookshops across the country took part, with events including book clubs and readings, such as Ann Cleeves appearing at Far From the Madding Crowd bookstore in Linlithgow. As an added incentive, there were limited edition Books Are My Bag tote bags designed by award-winning book cover designer, Coralie Bickford-Smith, which were exclusively available in bookshops on the day.

The event was heavily promoted on social media with publishers and bookshops sharing the hashtag #BookshopDay across Twitter, with the Penguin Twitter account (@PenguinUKBooks) writing: “Your mission, should you choose to accept it (& you should), is to head to your local bookshop and buy a book… or ten.”

In a clever move by the Bookseller’s Association, the event was planned to coincide with the start of the festive buying period with new titles by PD James, Graham Norton, Michael Palin and Margaret Atwood, amongst others being released on 6th October.

So now that a few days have passed and the dust has settled, how successful was Bookshop Day? The Bookseller reported initial findings that footfall in bookshops nationwide was much higher than an average Saturday, and sales also increased. The Bookseller also reported that Edward Scotland from Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights in Bath stated that “not all our customers were aware” of the event. However, with such good reports of a successful inaugural Bookshop Day, there can be no doubt that as awareness grows in following years, this could be an annual event of great importance for booksellers in the UK.

By Rachel McCann

Faith, Hope and Charity

November 29th, 2011 by Helen_Lewis-Mcphee | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Faith, Hope and Charity
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Last week, the Booksellers Association hit out at charity shop booksellers, claiming that these retailers are afforded an unfair advantage in the industry. With certain exemptions from corporation tax, VAT and rates, and a staff comprising largely of volunteers, it is argued that charity shops benefit from a unique position within the trade with which less charitable independent retailers are finding it impossible to compete. The Bookseller reports an estimated 8000 such brigands are abusing this advantage, turning profits of close to £20 million from book sales alone.

With our independent and second hand booksellers in such dire straits, surely it’s time to call a halt to such blatant exploitation, and level the playing field a little? I mean, when those Goliaths of the online world Amazon first made noises about taking over their only real competitor, the Book Depository, it sparked national outcry and an OFT investigation at the implications this would have for fair competition within the trade. So why is it one rule for Amazon and another for Oxfam?

I do hope we’re not missing the point here.

BA chairman Peter More has accused Oxfam of “acting more like a business than a charity”, adding that this was “a concern”. A concern? Now, I’m as concerned as anyone else in the industry for the future of indie bookshops. When I have the time (and the money) to spend browsing their shelves, I like nothing better than to pass up the tempting discounts offered by Goliaths and supermarkets alike in support of our struggling book-retailing entrepreneurs. But I also choose to frequent my local charity shops, and I certainly won’t be made to feel guilty about it. I refuse to accept that charities turning a profit and conducting their businesses efficiently and professionally is a Bad Thing. Without their retail turnover, these charities wouldn’t be able to support their work against poverty, homelessness, animal cruelty, heart disease, and cancer, to which we are all indebted at some point in our lives.

When I go to an indie bookstore, I go there for the atmosphere, the ambiance, the whole experience associated with book buying that first attracted me to the industry as soon as I was old enough to spend my own pocket money. This is not the same reason I go into a charity shop. The customers who are spending their hard-earned pocket money and pensions in the charity shops are not the same ones abandoning their high-street independents in favour of a cheap read. And I believe I’m not the only person who feels this way. I have faith in the Great British bibliophile and their loyalty to local independent retailers.

Maybe we should be more concerned with the competition presented by the deep discounting and heavy marketing favoured by the chain stores, online retailers and supermarkets. Maybe, instead of lashing out at those businesses still turning a profit, booksellers could take a little more time minding their own. Maybe the indies should to take a leaf out of the charity shops’ books.

Helen Lewis-McPhee