Indies and chains report BAMB sales boost

Indies and chains report BAMB sales boost

Book sales through shops participating in this year’s Books Are My Bag (BAMB) were up by 3.9% in the week of the campaign, with footfall up by 15%.

According to Nielsen Book Research, sales of physical books through all channels were down 1.0% in value and 1.7% in volume terms in the week to 11th October 2014. However, sales through the indies and chains that participated in BAMB were up 3.9% in value and 3.6% in volume terms year on year.

The second annual BAMB campaign kicked off on Super Thursday (9th October)—the day that 315 hardback titles were published, including major Christmas contenders such as autobiographies by John Cleese (Random House), Ray Winstone (Canongate), Roy Keane (W&N) and Kevin Pietersen (Sphere); fiction by Gillian Anderson and Jeff Rovin (A Vision of Fire, Simon & Schuster); and Paul Hollywood’s British Baking (Bloomsbury) in cookery.

Bookshops gave away special bags designed by British artist Tracey Emin and held “Big Bookshop Parties” on the Saturday (11th October), inviting customers to events and, in some cases, serving cake and wine. 

Many indies across the UK and Ireland took part in this year’s BAMB, along with chains Waterstones, W H Smith, Blackwell’s and Foyles. The industry-wide campaign promoting  high street bookselling was originally designed by advertising agency M&C Saatchi. 

A survey of Booksellers Association members reported that 61% of bookshop customers were aware of the campaign this year. Average footfall was up by nearly 15%, and those shops running specific events said their sales increased by an average of 19.5%. 

Peter Donaldson, owner of Red Lion Books in Colchester, said BAMB was a “great opportunity” to involve the community in a celebration of books. He said: “We wrapped up proofs that publishers had given us and invited customers to take a ‘lucky dip’ for free. We had a great response to that, people came back afterwards to say they would never usually have chosen that title but really enjoyed it.” 

He added: “In terms of customers’ awareness of the campaign, those into social media engaged with it and tweeted pictures of their BAMB bags, but I’m not sure it has quite fully penetrated the wider public’s consciousness just yet.”

At the BAMB launch event last month, Dame Gail Rebuck, Penguin Random House chair and BAMB’s co-chair, said: “Last year Books Are My Bag was a campaign; this year it’s a phenomenon . . . the bookshop remains a cultural destination where the majority of book discovery takes place. In the UK culture matters, and that means bookshops matter because one relies on the other.”