Shop-floor booksellers are being invited to join a new group called The Booksellers Network, which has been backed by significant players from across the industry. The group, launched by the Booksellers Association (BA) in partnership with HarperCollins, NetGalley and The Bookseller, aims to provide a vibrant ideas-sharing platform for grassroots retailers who are either young or new to the role.
The group has been founded after calls from some young booksellers: Jasmine Denholm of Wenlock Books, Robyn Law from Blackwell’s, Marion Rankine from Foyles, Charlotte Colwill from Dulwich Books and Katie Clapham from Storytellers, Inc are on board for the launch.
A couple of events are planned for this year: one in London and one outside the capital. There will also be opportunities for mentoring and professional development, and booksellers will be introduced to others from across the trade, such as editors and agents. The group is open to independent and chain shop-floor booksellers (rather than business owners) from across the UK and Ireland, with recruitment beginning on 12th September at the BA Conference, held at the University of Warwick.
Meryl Halls, head of membership services at the BA, said: “We all saw the merit in creating an informal space for young and new booksellers beyond that traditionally encompassed by the BA. We wanted to create a positive, mutually supportive and fun group, to attract shop-floor staff who work across the country in independent and chain bookshops. They have a lot of experience and enthusiasm to share, and we want to facilitate them coming together.”
Stuart Evers of NetGalley, the digital advance proof provider, said: “When I was a bookseller, I loved the often heated exchange of ideas and opinions about different titles, so I jumped at the possibility of helping booksellers across the country engage with one another. The Booksellers Network will give members an opportunity to seek out the books they will be passionately recommending to customers, while helping them to develop as influential readers and champions of great writing.”
Ben Hurd, trade marketing director at HarperCollins, said The Booksellers Network would be a “fantastic” extension of the publisher’s sponsorship of the British Book Industry Awards’ Young Retailer of the Year prize, and a move which would “open up greater dialogue and collaboration between many more booksellers”.
Maria Vassilopoulos, business development manager at The Bookseller, said: “Publishers sit in meeting rooms but booksellers are doing the actual selling and it’s important that they feel supported and connected. The Bookseller is delighted to back this new initiative for those reasons.”
Booksellers who would like to be involved can contact Halls at firstname.lastname@example.org.