BA aims to kick-start indie e-book sales

BA aims to kick-start indie e-book sales

The Booksellers Association is in “advanced” talks with two companies over an e-book platform that would provide independent bookshops with a way into the growing e-book market.

BA c.e.o. Tim Godfray revealed the plans at the Independent Booksellers Forum (IBF) in Edinburgh, which was held this week. Godfray said the BA had considered building its own platform, similar to the American Booksellers Association’s IndieCommerce scheme, but that “cost was an issue for us, and it would have put us in direct competition with some of our members”. He added: “We appreciate initiatives like Gardners’ Hive, but we want to see more digital options available to bookshops.”

BA president Jane Streeter also revealed that the association was in talks with several publishers about producing bespoke collectable editions for indies to sell during Independent Booksellers Week, similar to the limited edition products the music industry produces for the annual Record Store Day. “The talks we have had have all been very positive, and this should become an important element of the week,” she said.

Meanwhile, IBF speaker Leigh Sparks, professor of retail at Stirling University, said that the high street was “dead, or dying, and an anachronistic irrelevance for most people”, claiming that “what we need to do is stop talking about restoring the high street and start talking about reinventing it”.

Sparks said Britain needs a “truth and reconciliation committee” with governments and local authorities who have brought about the conditions that have led to the high-street decline. He called for better town planning to “rid high streets of their sterility and bring in creativity and energy”.

Sparks also called on councils to physically reduce the size of high streets. He said: “We have too many shops, and too many vacant shops. Some of these stores have been vacant for 10 to 15 years. The past, where people came to the high street for functional shopping, is gone, and the high street size has to reflect that.”

At the Publishing Scotland conference, also held in Edinburgh this week, children’s author and former Scottish Society of Authors chair 
Nicola Morgan urged delegates not to neglect their authors, and said the increasing importance of digital self-publishing had led to “a power shift” in the author/publisher relationship: “For a long time, authors have been cut out of the conversation with publishers—but now authors are more in control than ever."

Morgan said authors and publishers needed to “renew our vows” and added: “Authors want to need publishers, and authors need to have good publishers. If we are to survive, we have to do it together.”