"Last year Books Are My Bag was a campaign, this year it's a phenomenon," Penguin Random House UK chair Gail Rebuck – BAMB co-chair - said last night (9th October), at an industry event at Foyle's flagship store in Charing Cross Road, marking the start of the autumn's initiatives.
Rebuck thanked Foyles, the Booksellers Association and the designers of the 2015 bags – Tracey Emin and James Patterson – as well as thanking Patterson for his £250,000 grant to UK independent bookshops.
"The bookshop remains a cultural destination and where the majority of book discovery still takes place," she said. "In the UK culture matters and that means bookshops matter because one relies on the other."
Rebuck also praised the co-ordination of the BAMB launch with yesterday's "Super Thursday", saying: "It used to be a problem that so many books were published on the same day. I think it's wonderful that as an industry we've turned it around and made it an event."
Also speaking at the event, author Deborah Moggach paid tribute to Daunt Books, her local bookshop until a recent move to Wales. "We're here to celebrate bookshops because we love them intently. In bookshops you find books you never know you wanted," she said, adding, to a chorus of cheers and boos from the audience: "I think there's a special place in hell for people who browse in bookshops and then order the books online."
Tim Walker, president of the Booksellers Association, said: "Bookshops are a magical place, and BAMB is a celebration of the passion, knowledge, dedication and idiosyncrasies of bookshops and book sellers… Bookshops are interwoven into the cultural fabric of our country…Bookselling would be non-existent without authors, the beating heart of the industry.If books really are your bag get into your local bookshop and support it."
The Foyles event space was decked out in BAMB bunting, with the new Tracey Emin bags being given away with a copy of the official BAMB book The Bookshop Book by Jen Campbell, while a three-metre high BAMB bag stood in the foyer . Campbell was there, about to embark on her 12 bookshop signing events on Saturday (11th) at London bookshops after having spent the week travelling the country doing signings at 30 other shops. Campbell said of bookshops: "Bookshops are magical places full of infinite possibilities. We shouldn't take the high street bookshop for granted."
Over 1,100 bookshops will be displaying BAMB point-of-sale marketing and over 300 shops will be holding author events and/or Big Bookshop Parties.
Books and my Bag and Super Thursday have had widespread coverage including in the Guardian, Times, Daily Express, Telegraph, Sunday Telegraph and You (Mail on Sunday), as well as BBC Radio 4's "Front Row", "BBC Breakfast", "BBC Scotland Culture" and elsewhere, and on social media.
Tim Godfray, chief executive of the Booksellers Association, said: "Books Are My Bag has been a great success this year. It's given us a platform to talk about the important role bookshops play in our cultural life and the joy of shopping for books in bookshops to the consumer. The campaign has engaged all high street booksellers from chains to independents, from campus to Christian bookshops. We hope this kick starts the Christmas season for bookshops like it did for many last year. On behalf of BA members, I'd like to extend my thanks to Gail Rebuck, M&C Saatchi, publishers, Tracey Emin and all the individual authors and illustrators whose support for this campaign has made it what it is."