Mr B's bookshop co-owner Nic Bottomley has been elected as president of the Booksellers Association, taking over the role from Rosamund de la Hay, owner of The Mainstreet Trading Company.
Bottomley paid tribute to De la Hay’s “logistical and clear” approach at the association’s AGM at the London Book Fair on Tuesday (10th April) as he took up his new role. Maria Dickenson of Dubray Books and Andy Rossiter of Rossiter Books were voted in as vice-presidents.
During the meeting BA chief executive Tim Godfray formally stepped down from his role after 33 years with Meryl Halls, former head of membership services, stepping up to the newly created role of m.d. It was announced in January that Godfray would take up another newly developed position as executive chair of the BA Group, overseeing Batch and National Book Tokens as well as the BA.
De la Hay said the association was "incredibly lucky" to have experienced Godfray's "wealth of experience". "I don't think I know anyone who works harder than Tim," she said.
Meanwhile Godray described how “the tide is turning” for indie retailers in his round-up of the BA’s activities over the past year.
He said: “If you look at our membership numbers, and look back at the Net Book Agreement… 2017 was the first time that we ended the year with the number of independent bookshops higher than at the beginning of the year so that is really good news.” He confirmed that the number of member outlets was the highest in the BA’s history.
“Consumers are recognising that bookshops are the best place for discovery,” he added. However he acknowledged the impact of the bad weather on World Book Day on 1st March, describing “the snow as the pits”.
The BA will also launch a Diversity Matters scheme to boost inclusion, Godfray revealed, with details will be announced will be outlined at a later date and there is a plan to change the external messaging around the association next year.
Bottomley paid tribute to De La Hay's "fantastic job as president".
“As president, my priorities will include to continuing to strengthen the relationship between publishers and booksellers, particularly to add further weight to key campaigns including Independent Bookshop Week and Books Are My Bag," he told The Bookseller.
"This is a crucial time for bookshops and the BA and I am looking forward to working closely with Meryl Halls in her new role as m.d. Meryl and I very much see eye to eye on the key issues the book trade currently faces, including working towards a bookselling sector that more truly represents the diversity of our society. We are excited to be launching a new initiative focussed on diversity in the coming months – watch this space."
He added: “I’m always hugely impressed with the many ways in which booksellers share knowledge, skills and experience when brought together, and this is something I plan to build on as president, looking at more ways for booksellers to come together to share creativity and ever-improve our professionalism, while supporting young and new booksellers as they join our vibrant sector.”