The Booksellers Association’s annual conference is set to take place in Birmingham this year, headlined by actor and author Brian Blessed.
The event is moving from Warwick University, where it has been held for the past five years, to Central Birmingham Conference Aston and will take place on 10-11th September.
The BA’s head of marketing Alan Staton suggested the new venue might attract more delegates from the London publishing scene, with the journey just 90 minutes by train from the capital.
“We’re delighted to be moving to the heart of Birmingham for the BA’s Annual Conference this year. At Conference Aston, there is more scope for streamed sessions and discussions, as well as for a broader range of debates between publishers and booksellers to take place simultaneously. It’s also just a few minutes from Birmingham New Street station, and only 90 minutes from London," he said. "We very much look forward to welcoming this year’s delegates.”
Actor and author Blessed has been lined up to give the keynote address at the event on Monday (11th September), and author Kit de Waal will speak about diversity and community in the Bookseller Business Session on Sunday afternoon.
Author and former bookseller Cathy Rentzenbrinck will chair the event again and BA president Rosamund de la Hey of the Mainstreet Trading Company will give an introduction.
New to the offering this year are “Skills Labs”, where booksellers can brush up on vital knowledge in the areas of running bookshop events; bookshop systems; maximising space for profit and effect; Edelweiss/Above The Treeline; building a winning team; business improvement; digital marketing; working with schools and hit and miss campaigns.
As usual the Gardners Trade Show will kick off the event at noon on Sunday and The Independent Alliance will sponsor the conference supper on Sunday evening.
“The Conference is an invaluable opportunity to meet colleagues from across the book trade, share ideas and – we hope – return to your shops and businesses inspired and invigorated,” organisers said.
The BA added that last year’s trial of an optional extra evening on Monday for booksellers was a “tremendous success” and would be repeated this year, with an author dinner sponsored by Cornerstone.