Sales were up by an average of 30% during this year’s Books Are My Bag celebration, making 2015 the “most successful” year for the campaign yet.
The Booksellers Association surveyed its members who took part in the campaign running from 8th-10th October, who reported that both book sales and footfall were up in comparison to the campaign period a year earlier.
The results suggest the UK and Ireland event to highlight bookshops on the high street is further penetrating the public’s conscious, three years after it was founded, with the BA calling it the "most successful year" of the campaign to date.
The BA’s c.e.o, Tim Godfray, said: “Bookshops have sparkled over the last couple of weeks, reminding shoppers that they offer experiences that can’t be bought online. From in store activities and exclusive giveaways to meeting authors and sharing recommendations, books lovers, authors and publishers across the country have joined forces to celebrate bookshops. The result is more sales and more people visiting bookshops, and we couldn’t be more thrilled.”
Altogether 60% of booksellers reported footfall was up over the three-day period, with 63% saying sales were up. Sales were up by an average of 30% for those who saw a bounce, whereas footfall was up by an average of 22.5%. By comparison, in 2013, bookshops reported sales increased by 18.5% and footfall by 17.5% and in 2014 20% saw a sales increase and a 22.5% rise in footfall.
For the second year in a row, the BAMB campaign was timed to coincide with Super Thursday on 8th October, the date when the most hardback books were released onto the market for Christmas. Many bookshops help ‘Big Bookshop Parties’ on Saturday 10th October, featuring author events and inviting customers in for cake and wine.
Debbie James at The Bookshop, Kibworth, said: “Footfall to the shop was five times more than a regular Saturday and sales easily quadrupled on the day. We held a signing with the former Premier League footballer Muzzy Izzet who met customers and signed copies of his new biography and the kids took part in the Dr Seuss Cat in the Hat Trail which was really popular.”
Emma Corfield-Walters, owner of Book-ish in Crickhowell, Powys, said that despite the shop having fifth birthday celebrations and a literary festival in the town on the same day, she thought more customers knew about the Books Are My Bag promotion. “It is an amazing campaign and we have always benefitted from it,” Corfield-Walters said. “It gives us a little bit of a kick to do more in the shop with that day. There was much more of a demand for the special edition bags this year as well. Customers were coming in and asking for them. Publishers are getting behind it more and more people know about it.”
Susi Stapleton, manager at Wenlock Books, meanwhile, said the shop held five events in one day. “For us it’s a chance to say thank you to our customers as well and this is the biggest BAMB celebration we have had yet,” she said. “We hang it mainly off the ‘celebrate your high street bookshop’ angle. The sales we took we around double I think.”
According to Nielsen Bookscan, the top-selling print books released on Super Thursday was The Amazing Book Is Not On Fire by Dan Howell and Phil Lester (Ebury Press), followed closely by Bill Bryson’s The Road to Little Dribbling (Doubleday). Warriors of the Storm by Bernard Cornwell (HarperCollins), Simply Nigella by Nigella Lawson (Chatto & Windus), Lonely Girl by Josephine Cox (Harper) and Dictator by Robert Harris (Hutchinson) were the next bestselling titles released on Super Thursday in consecutive order.
According to Nielsen Bookscan, 3,585,835 books were sold from 4th-10th October, up 4.9% week-on-week, for £32.83m up 6% on the same week in 2014.