Bookshops involved in the Books Are My Bag campaign launch on Saturday 14th September saw an average 18% year-on-year sales rise on the day, according to Penguin Random House chair Gail Rebuck.
Speaking to a packed delegation at the Booksellers Association Conference yesterday (23rd September), Rebuck said: "Books Are My Bag in itself isn't going to solve the problems of bookshops closures, it just isn't. But what I think BAMB has done is change the atmosphere from one of dejection to one of optimism. I sensed it at the launch and I sense it in this room—this is only the beginning.
She added: "Really it is up to you to develop this campaign and drive it on and take it forward. We as publishers are here to help but it is you to take it forward."
Tim Walker from Walkers bookshops said he had seen a 20% uplift in sales in one shop in particular on the day of the campaign launch. He told The Bookseller: "Customers really loved it, and it received a great reception."
Ron Johns, owner of Falmouth bookshop, said: "We were up about 10% on average. The bags and the posters are very vibrant, it was the start of our festival that day and the campaign launch fitted in very well with that. I am going to get back and make sure we have bags in stock for the run-up to Christmas. If you ask customers if they would like special bag, they do, and they want to get involved."
Booksellers across the country handed out thousands of BAMB tote bags on the launch day of the campaign and displayed posters of celebrities including model Lily Cole, actor Amanda Holden and author Neil Gaiman backing the campaign in their bookshops.
James Lowther from M&C Saatchi underlined the importance of booksellers continuing the campaign from now up until Christmas and beyond. "We are thinking of designing a special bag dedicated to Christmas saying 'Books Are My Christmas Bag'," he said.
Lowther added: "Rome and Roman Abramovic weren't built in a day. Leaving [the campaign] now would be like leaving in the first minute of the first half [of a football match]. We have got to keep going."
Despite high street bookshops involved in the BAMB campaign reporting strong sales on the Saturday, total sales across all booksellers last week were down 8.4% year on year in value terms. Nielsen BookScan reports £26.2m was spent on printed books in the seven days ending 14th September—a slight increase (+2.7%) on the previous week, driven largely by growth in the academic sector.