BA to focus on high street challenge

This year’s Booksellers Association conference, to be held at the Warwick University conference centre on 16th–17th September, will focus on the future of high street bookselling.

BA c.e.o. Tim Godfray said "all aspects of book retailing and e-tailing" would be on the agenda, with practical advice aimed at promoting a bookshop as a brand, getting to know customers better, and looking at a “manifesto” for the high street. Speakers will include Shaun Smith of customer experience consultancy Smith+co; Siemon Scamell-Katz, author of The Art of Shopping; and Jonathan Reynolds of the Oxford Institute of Retail Management.

Independents said handling the fierce competition from Amazon and finding an avenue to sell e-books were among the most pressing issues they face. Marie Telford from Hayling Island Bookshop said: "Certainly the Amazon monopoly, and how to work with it, should be discussed." Catherine Hetherington, from New Bookshop in Cockermouth, said: "E-books have become the way to read for a lot of customers now, and many of them do not realise we can’t sell them Kindle books in our store, so it would be good to find a way of selling customers e-books."

Godfray said: "The BA’s ‘Keep Books on the High Street’ campaign continues to be the main focus of activity for the BA’s championing of its members. The conference is an opportunity for publishers and booksellers to discuss the challenges, and how effective partnerships can make a difference, through community collaboration and, most importantly, ensure a positive future for high-street bookselling."