Trade wishlist aired at BIC

A World Book Night for adults, a shared customer loyalty card for all independent bookshops and a "Birthday Club" for all under 10-year-olds were on the wishlist of delegates debating key resolutions for the trade at the Book Industry Conference yesterday (19th May).

However Penguin m.d. Tom Weldon, chairing the debate panel on "Creating Partnerships", warned against industry discussion that did not lead to action.

"Enough of BA/PA councils," he said. "We need a few powerful individuals to knock heads together. Partnerships only work with dictatorship."

Jo Howard of Meridian Search Selection, reporting back on discussion about "Connecting Through Live Events", said a World Book Night for adults had been proposed, to follow on from World Book Day, and its focus on children.

"The idea is just to give away one million books - 50 different titles, 20,000 of each," she said, saying there was "a lot of energy" behind the idea.

Another ambition voiced by Howard's panel was a "Birthday Club" giving every child a "book communication" on his or her birthday - whether a free book or a book token - up to the age of 10.

A week-long city books festival, going beyond the usual outlines of the traditional literary festival and involving all retailers and publishers, was also proposed.

Jo Henry, m.d. of Book Marketing Limited, reporting from the "Exploiting the Retail Calendar" panel, proposed a common message from the industry on books as gifts and suggested generating an industry calendar including all events that offered opportunities for the trade to link in. Weldon's suggestions included one central marketing agency to promote books to schools across the country, and a partnership between independent bookshops to establish a customer loyalty card for all stores.

Random House UK deputy c.e.o. Ian Hudson, reporting back on "Independent Bookselling in 2010 and Beyond" suggested that Independent Book Week could be improved "with broader involvement and more trade support" and said that independents had a role to play in digital, but that there was a responsibility for publishers, wholesalers and trade organisations to help facilitate this role.

"We want them to sell e-readers, offer advice and technical support. They need the ability to engage customers in the digital conversation," he said.

Faber c.e.o. Stephen Page, chairing the feedback session, urged delegates not to let the impetus for this "ambitious agenda" flag. "We've got to keep the energy up and try to deliver on that," he said.