Supported by a growing number of print publications, the “localism” movement in Germany is gaining momentum. Founded in 2012, the umbrella group Buy-Local-Verein (its name mixes English and German) now has approximately 600 members nationwide and is growing strongly.
Booksellers are heavily involved, supported by trade association Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels (BDB); its managing director Alexander Skipis has just announced an extension of its campaign Vorsicht Buch! (Attention, Book!) for at least another 12 months.
Vorsicht Buch! was launched in March 2013 as a three-year campaign to promote shopping on the high street instead of online. The decision to continue after 2016 was an easy one, according to Skipis. “The public perception of bookstores has changed in recent times from an industry allegedly on the brink of extinction to one with a future. And the campaign has played an essential part in this,” he said. BDB has no figures on how many booksellers are actively using the campaign, but a survey conducted by the association earlier this year among its members showed that 98.4% knew of its existence and 72.6% saw it as a “useful tool“.
While the €115,000 allocated to year four of the campaign is only a fraction of the initial €3m budget, Skipis thinks it is enough to build on the momentum and to introduce carefully selected new elements and more point-of-sale material. Full details are yet to be released, but social media will play an important part, together with posters featuring prominent authors and celebrities. Skipis also confidently expects Vorsicht Buch! to continue beyond 2017. “At the end of this year, the board will decide on a larger budget for the following years,” he said.
Skipis noted that an increasing number of booksellers use Vorsicht Buch! as an “inspirational instrument” to develop and implement their own marketing ideas. It promotes the message that bookshops (and print books) are not old- fashioned, that bookshops are the place to discover books and that they can deliver orders in less than 24 hours—and at the same price as Amazon.
BDB-owned trade newspaper Börsenblatt recently compiled 77 ideas to help bookshops to thrive, together with information for booksellers on how to customise them for their own shop. Ideas ranged from culinary events, to co-operative ventures with museums and other retailers, to low-budget ideas (costing under €100), to staging author readings with a twist—on a boat touring the port of Hamburg, for example.
Vorsicht Buch! is not the only campaign promoting the value of bricks-and- mortar bookshops in Germany. From 9th–18th July, the Bavarian branch of Börsenverein will run a poster campaign in around 50 Munich bookshops. Bookuck!—combining the German words for “book” and “looking”—aims to heighten awareness of bookshops in the city. It finishes on the same day that Munich’s booksellers celebrate Tag der Münchner Buchhandlungen (“Munich booksellers’ day”) a one- day festival with author readings, music and activities for kids and adults.