The executive chairman of the Booksellers Association has called for positivity in the year ahead as he says booksellers are bucking the trend of high street closures.
In his end-of-year round up Tim Godfray praised publishers for “giving most welcome support to bookshops” and hinted the number of indie bookshops is tipped to rise, predicting a “positive story to tell on bookshops for the second year in a row. “
Godfray said four things have given him hope for the New Year. He said: “I read an article in The Bookseller about Christmas trading. Wonderful. Seemingly, the bookshop chains and independents in BA membership are – up to now – having a great Christmas. Long may it last in the critical next few days. An email arrived from Pippa, our membership manager. I’m not at liberty to divulge the details, but we will have a positive story to tell on bookshops for the second year in a row. This is no mean feat, after so many years of decline, and it’s a sign of the renewed confidence in the sector that new, energetic and creative people are entering it.
“A tweet came in from Michelle Obama, saying: 'Let's give it up for all the independent booksellers out there for everything they do, including their support of Becoming these past few months! I hope everybody keeps supporting their neighborhood bookstore this holiday season and all year round!' A report about the high street came in from my old company, PriceWaterhouseCoopers. This shows that so many shops in our high streets are having a hard time and closing, but booksellers are bucking the trend. Who would have predicted this a number of years ago?”
The BA executive chairman praised consumers for “voting with their feet” to go into physical bookshops. He added: “We believe the tide is continuing to turn in favour of printed books and bookshops. In the online v physical debate, you might get the impression that almost everything is bought online these days and the high street is stuffed, but it is salutary to remember the ONS statistic that overall only 18% of all purchases are made online. (Sadly, that’s not the case for books, but it is a huge corrective to the media narrative that physical shopping must always lose to online.)"