Former BA president John Hyams dies, aged 94

Former BA president John Hyams dies, aged 94

Former Booksellers Association president John Hyams has died, aged 94.
A leading bookseller of his era and moderniser of the book trade, Hyams was BA president from 1986 to 1987, after entering the trade in 1949 as an apprentice at Parry's Bookshop in Liverpool.

Hyams spent 39 years as a bookseller, managing the book department at Beale's of Bournemouth and concluding his career as deputy book merchandise manager for all W H Smith branches. He was also the author of Careers in Bookselling, publishing in the Better Bookselling series by Hutchinson in the 1960s.

A respected figure at Smiths and culminating in his presidency of the BA, Hyams and other senior ‎book industry figures campaigned for the Net Book Agreement, for freedom of speech and to keep VAT off books and print.

BA m.d. Meryl Halls said: "John Hyams was BA President from 1986–1987 and a leading bookseller of his era. His involvement with the BA pre-dated mine, but I know that former BA c.e.o. Tim Godfray had a strong and mutually respectful relationship with John, whose opinion he valued and whose commitment to the BA we all benefited from. He had a long career as a bookseller, and served the BA with dedication and duty throughout his tenure as an officer, and then as president. We are very sorry to hear of his passing, and send condolences to his family."

Paying tirbute to Hyams, former BA president Godfray said: "The BA was extremely fortunate to have had John Hyams as its president. John felt extremely fortunate in working in an industry in which he loved, and he felt honour-bound—working in a large company—to give something back to the book trade. He was generous in the time he gave to help other booksellers and believed strongly that independent booksellers had an extremely important part to play.  

"He could see things from the perspective of both a large and a small bookseller and he also understood the publishing industry—very valuable qualities to have as a BA president.  

"But way above all these qualities and attributes was the fact that John was an extremely nice man. Courteous, kind and thoughtful. I especially loved going to the Frankfurt Book Fair with him. He believed the BA should play a strong part in liaising with our international colleagues. I learnt a lot from him and always returned from Frankfurt enriched and humbled."

Hyams, who died on 10th February following a short illness, is survived by his wife Erika, his children former publisher and editor of the CILIP journal Elspeth, Oliver, Roland and Nick and two granddaughters.

The funeral will take place on 16th March. For details, email