The Mainstreet Trading Company’s Rosamund de la Hey has been re-elected as the Booksellers Association president for a second year.
She was voted into the post for a second time at the BA’s annual general meeting, which took place during London Book Fair last week.
At the same time, W H Smith’s books director Lucy Menendez and Nic Bottomley, owner of indie Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights in Bath, were re-elected as vice presidents.
The other BA Council members include Patrick Neale from Jaffe & Neale Bookshop, Ron Johns, owner of Mabecron Books, Andy Rossiter of Rossiter Books, Yahya Thada of Plodit, Eva Von Reuss from Waterstones, Sheila O'Reilly from Village Books in Dulwich, Phil Henderson from Asda, David Marshall of John Smith, Justin Adams from Connect Books/Bertrams. They join Foyles’ chief executive Paul Currie, Gardners head of business development Nigel Wyman, Emma Milne-White from The Hungerford Bookshop, Bob Johnston from The Gutter Bookshop, Blackwell’s Kieron Smith, Wayne Winstone of Winstone’s and David Field from Eason.
Earlier this month de la Hey spoke about her desire to support new bookshops to open in her role as president of the BA.
“What I want to do as president is encourage new entrants and support people in opening new bookshops,” she said. “Publishers experiencing the shop floor is part of that. The more publishers see bookshops as a vital part of the community, the better, and vice versa. We would be nothing without [publishers], but it has to go both ways,” she said.
The Bookseller Association membership increased by 248 outlets last year to 4,729, according to recent figures, thanks to new joiners such as the National Trust - the fifth year in a row BA membership has increased.
Independent bookshop numbers fell for an 11th consecutive year and now stand at 867. However, the rate of closure has slowed and new indies keep starting up - with 21 one starting up shop in 2016.
The two biggest challenges for the trade body and bricks-and-mortar booksellers are the hike in business rates, coming in next month, and the fight for “a level playing field” with online retailers, de la Hey said. “Business rates will be the sector’s biggest challenge, without question,” she said. “Some of the rates rises . . . I don’t see how any bookshop would be able to cushion. The fact that Amazon’s warehouses taxes are going down while independent booksellers’ are going up is ridiculous.”
BA c.e.o Tim Godfray, meanwhile, said that while it was “encouraging” that the rate of closure of indie bookshops had slowed, “much more needs to be done to level the playing field for bookshops to compete effectively”.
“The BA is fighting hard to address these issues, including making representations on business rates and unfair competition,” he added.