Over 50 booksellers from as far away as Cumbria gathered in London on Tuesday night (17th January) for the launch of The Booksellers Network.
The informal group is for younger or newer booksellers from independent bookshops and chains and aims to provide an ideas-sharing, professional development, social and networking opportunities.
Booksellers gathered from northern England, Wales and the South to attend the buzzy event, held at The Clerkenwell & Social in London.
Katie Clapham, owner of Storytellers, Inc in St Annes on Sea in Lancashire has been selected as the chair of the Network.
She said: “This group is good because it is not meant for managers, but booksellers who might not get to go to events to meet people and pick up tips. I also think its important to encourage young people who might have fallen into bookselling after doing it as a Saturday job to stay in the industry, that what you do is valued, and I think the Network can really help to do that.”
Emma Corfield-Walters, who owns Bookish in Crickhowell, Wales, said she thinks the group is a good idea because booksellers need moral support when they are starting out in the trade.
“I really wanted to come to this because when I started out as a bookseller, I had come from a building company in Brighton and I had huge imposter syndrome for a long time, thinking ‘I don’t know what I am doing’,” she said. “There is no real qualification you can take in bookselling so you just have to pick it up, there was nothing apart from the Booksellers Association to hold your hand and tell you you are doing ok. So I think this network is a really good idea. For me, having that peer support is really important.”
Debbie James of The Bookshop Kibworth (left) with Storytellers, Inc's Katie Clapham
Richard Drake, owner of Drake’s The Bookshop on Stockton on Tees, meanwhile, said he wanted to come along to exchange business ideas.
“Anything that can help me to run my business better and to pick up ideas is always something I am up for,” he said. “All these people in this room together, it gives you a little bit of umph as well.”
The group is coordinated by the Booksellers Association and sponsored by HarperCollins and NetGalley.
Other booksellers who have helped to create the Network are Charlotte Colwill and Marion Rankin from Foyles, Robyn Law from Blackwell's in Holborn and Richard Thorne from Rossiters Books in Monmouth.
The BA’s head of membership services Meryl Halls said she is keen the group “is not all about London” and to this end, Regional Ambassadors for the Network will be appointed and revealed in due course, and then regional events will be planned.
There is also a summer party planned for this year, the details for which will be revealed at a later date.
Booksellers who would like to be involved in the Network can contact Halls on email@example.com.