This year’s Books Are My Bag (BAMB) campaign is hooking up with dating site eHarmony to promote bookshops as the perfect destination for a romantic date. The Bookseller understands the partnership will see bookshops around the country with cafés and bars recommended to the dating site’s 1.3 million UK users as stimulating rendezvous spots.
While details of the partnership are yet to be finalised, the link-up is intended to highlight the variety and vibrancy of bookshops as destinations across the UK. The eHarmony dating service was founded by clinical psychologist and marriage counsellor Dr Neil Clark Warren in Los Angeles in 1997. He believed there should be a more scientific way of finding love rather than relying on luck. The platform’s users fill out a detailed questionnaire and the service seeks to link them with someone it deems to be compatible.
Now in its fifth year, the Booksellers Association-run BAMB promotes and celebrates high-street bookshops. It is set to print its millionth tote bag bearing the campaign logo and, to mark the milestone, book lovers can take part in a competition to win a bag of prizes, with details to be released in the coming weeks.
The BA’s initiative Bookshop Day will return on Saturday 7th October, with retailers capitalising on the promotion and seeking to attract customers in-store with initiatives such as authors-in-residence, writer events, signings and parties. Authors and celebrities supporting the campaign include Margaret Atwood, Nadiya Hussain, Ben Fogle, Howard Jacobson, James Patterson, Claire Balding, Jamie Oliver, Michael Palin, Caitlin Moran, Grayson Perry, Lily Cole and Tracey Emin.
The BA has also rebranded its Civilised Saturday campaign for this autumn as the Saturday Sanctuary. The event began as the antithesis to Black Friday, which, launched by Amazon, has seen e-commerce companies and retail giants such as Walmart
offer deep discounts to shoppers about a month before Christmas. The BA campaign’s name had been criticised by some in the industry for helping to exacerbate the publishing trade’s “snobby” reputation. Evoking the image of a relaxing spa, the Saturday Sanctuary is a “gentle recasting” of the promotion, said the BA’s Alan Staton. It will take place on 25th November, the day after Black Friday, and encourage customers to celebrate bookshops as places of “calm and respite from our hectic daily lives”.
“Customers will be able to enjoy exclusive offers on books, herbal teas, meditation, cosy reading corners, and much more,” Staton said. He added: “We’ve had some fun with Civilised Saturday the past couple of years, and it’s been really valuable to catch some media attention for high street bookshops when all the other stories are about online shopping. The Saturday Sanctuary is a gentle recasting, taking away any slight edge of snootiness and making the connection between books and wellbeing and being pampered with some bibliotherapy.”