BA acts on digital threat to shops

<p>Fiona Fraser</p><p>Booksellers' fears that digitisation initiatives from publishers will cut them out of the supply chain have prompted the Booksellers Association to set up a digital working group. </p><p>BA chief executive Tim Godfray said that council members believe it could take as little as two years for digital content developments to have a "noticeable effect" on booksellers' sales. He said "little thought" has been given to the role of the bookseller by publishers.</p><p>BA president David Roche told The Bookseller: "When channel changes happen, they can happen very quickly. At this stage we are trying to raise the issues we need to consider. Booksellers need to talk to publishers--they cannot just sit and wait for things to happen."</p><p>Bloomsbury last week announced the establishment of an ebooks store, which launched with 24 downloadable titles. HarperCollins is developing a global digital warehouse that will hold 10,000 front and backlist titles by this summer. </p><p>The working group will consider the effects of digitisation of content on general and academic booksellers, and school and academic suppliers. The council has appointed Jo Willetts, head of books at distributor Entertainment UK, as chair of the working group. </p><p>Willetts said that even UK publishers "were not in the loop" about their US counterparts' digital plans. "We should be talking to the US publishers and Google about what they are doing. This is really about getting publishers to see booksellers as a complementary channel."</p><p>The group will meet for the first time on 5th May, and will produce a report within six weeks for the BA detailing the likely effect of digitisation programmes on booksellers.</p>