January 23, 2023

RISE Bookselling launches its new podcast series, Let’s Talk Bookselling

Subscribe and listen to our first podcast series, Let's Talk Bookselling, which explores some of the most relevant topics in the bookselling sector through conversations with different from the book trade

RISE Bookselling is starting 2023 by expanding its portfolio of activities, with a podcast series joining the list!

Each one of the six episodes comprised in the series Let's Talk Bookselling features an expert from the bookselling sector, with whom we sit down and dissect a specific topic of relevance for the industry. From the development of the audiobook market to the plethora of options that bookshops play as cultural and community hubs, Let's Talk Bookselling aims at offering a timely and plural review of where the sector is at.

Every episode of Let's Talk Bookselling will be released on Spotify on Wednesday, so make sure you subscribe to our channel!

November 9, 2022

International booksellers join UK & Ireland’s Booksellers Association Conference

October was a busy month for the RISE Bookselling team: after having brought 5 booksellers to the Frankfurt Book Fair, we invited 7 selected international booksellers to join us at the UK & Ireland’s Booksellers Association Conference, which took place on 30-31 October in Hinckley, UK.

Over the course of two days, boksellers Dinija Innusa (Janis Roze in Riga, Latvia), Raluca Selejan (La Două Bufniţe in Timișoara, Romania), Cátia Soares (Faz de Conto in Coimbra, Portugal), Eliana Soukiazes (Faz de Conto in Coimbra, Portugal), Robert Albazi (Paperback Bookshop in Melbourne, Australia), Norun Hovind-Breisnes (Ark in Strommen, Norway) and Zaida Pérez (Librería Liberespacio in Madrid, Spain) enjoyed a packed programme organised by the Booksellers Association of the UK and Ireland (BA).

Following an opening session during which Meryl Halls, Managing Director of the BA, and Hazel Broadfoot, President of the BA, welcomed the international booksellers joining the conference through RISE Bookselling, the first day of the conference kicked off with an afternoon tea session. The afternoon tea was accompanied not only by delicious treats, but above all by a handful of amazing HarperCollins authors who presented their brand-new works to the attendees. Over a cup of tea, our booksellers got a chance to get to know one another and chat about bookselling in their respective countries.

The rest of the day presented multiple networking opportunities. Our international booksellers had a chance to connect not only with each other but also with numerous British and Irish booksellers during the evening drinks reception, and they enjoyed their dinner accompanied by various authors who presented their latest books in a series of short speeches. The evening concluded with a Conference Disco – and some of us brought our dancing shoes!

The following morning, we gathered for breakfast in presence of yet more brilliant authors, and afterwards, it was time for the official opening of the conference! Hazel Broadfoot, President of the BA, delivered a powerful welcome speech in which she emphasised the key role that booksellers play in the book industry and the support that is needed to keep independent bookselling afloat. (Find the full speech on EIBF’s website.)

After a word by the BA Managing Director Meryl Halls and a coffee break, it was time for they keynote author – none other than the famous commentator, comedian and presenter Graham Norton! In conversation with Conference Chair and author Cathy Rentzenbrink, Graham Norton spoke about his books, his love for bookshops and his profession, and with his inimitable charm, he captivated the audience.

The busy morning concluded with a fever pitch session, during which publishers introduced their key upcoming titles to the present booksellers, and then it was time for lunch.

In the afternoon, we were thrilled to join another one of the highlights of the conference: Skills Labs on various topics related to bookselling. Our booksellers were given several topics to choose from: from a session on stock management, through one dedicated to BookTok, to a guide on graphic novels and manga or a session dedicated to disability equality – there was something for everyone! RISE booksellers attended, among others, a session on Running a Sustainable Bookselling Business, during which booksellers Amber Harrison and Karen Brazier from FOLDE Bookshop (Dorset, UK) shared their business model, which puts sustainability at its very core in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Providing several practical tips, they shared their daily good practices and their focus on recycling and repurposing in efforts to minimise the bookshop’s carbon footprint.

We also attended the workshop on Supporting Good Mental Health with staff and customers at the bookshop. Led by Fran Kershaw from The Retail Trust and bookseller Liz Tye (Next Page Books), they shared some great practical tips to help improve our mental health and overall mood when things are not going our way. They also highlighted the importance of bookshops being welcoming and inclusive spaces for all people. In Liz's case, she runs a bookshop that specialises in literature for neurodiverse people, particularly children. Finally, they shared some additional resources for mental health support, such as mind.org and Hub of Hope.

And then it was almost time to say goodbye – after a closing speech and the announcement of BA awards, we concluded the conference with evening drinks and a delicious dinner.

Not only did the event give our international booksellers an opportunity to get to know booksellers from other countries, to get inspired during the skills labs and to hear from interesting speakers – it also allowed them to gain a unique insight into the British and Irish bookselling world. We’re grateful to the BA for opening the doors of their conference to our international guests and being wonderful hosts.

October 27, 2022

Experiencing the Frankfurt Book Fair for the first time

Five booksellers from Europe and New Zealand got to experience the Frankfurt Book Fair for the first time


Through the RISE Bookselling programme, booksellers Federico Lang, (Librería Luces, Málaga, Spain and representative of CEGAL), Lénaïc Pillet, (Cultura, Mérignac, France), Brid Conroy (Tertulia Bookshop, Westport, Ireland), Marta Azofra (Librería Lex Nova, Madrid, Spain), and Mary Sangster, (University Bookshop, Canterbury, New Zealand) took part in the world’s largest trade fair for books – the Frankfurt Book Fair

The incoming booksellers participated in a 4 day dedicated programme running from Monday, 17 October to Thursday, 20 October, where they got the opportunity to meet and exchange with colleagues from all over the world.
 
Day 1

On Monday afternoon, the programme kicked off with an introductory session which took place in the Frankfurt Haus des Buches. Our booksellers got the opportunity to introduce themselves and their bookshops to a group of international colleagues. The specificities of each bookshop quickly sparked interest, with our booksellers enjoying an intense networking afternoon. The networking continued over dinner, which brought together book trade professionals from all over the world.

Day 2

The morning of the second day of the programme focused on the German book market. Iris Hunscheid, Chairwoman of the Independent Booksellers’ Forum within the German Publishers and Booksellers Association (Börsenverein), introduced the German book trade and its particularities, and Stephan Schierke, Chairman of the Intermediary Book Trade Committee, spoke about the role and function of intermediary book trade in the country. The German Book Prize and its long list for 2022 were also introduced to our participants. In the afternoon, our booksellers participated in panels on children’s and youth books, as well as academic books, and they also learned more about social media marketing in bookselling.

After a fruitful day full of new knowledge, connections and forming friendships, the booksellers attended the Opening Ceremony of the 74th Frankfurt Book Fair 2022, which marked the official inauguration of this year’s edition of the Fair. With Spain being this year’s Guest of Honour, participants at the ceremony had the chance to witness the speech of His Majesty, King Felipe VI. Other speakers included German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier or brilliant Spanish authors Antonio Muñoz Molina and Irene Vallejo. And with a glass of bubbles after the ceremony, the Fair officially began!

Day 3
On Wednesday morning, our booksellers gathered at the Fair grounds for yet another day full of interesting presentations. Firstly, they had the chance to get to know the work of Kurt Wolff Stiftung, a foundation representing the interests of German independent publishers. After the first presentation of the day, the booksellers visited the stand of S. Fischer Verlag, one of Germany’s largest publishing houses, and afterwards, they were presented with the work of the Büchergilde association. The morning was completed with the presentation of Dussmann das KulturKaufhaus, Berlin’s landmark bookshop.

In the late afternoon, participants were given the option to attend a guided tour of the Fair grounds, after which, over a delicious meal, our booksellers all had the chance to get to know each other better, exchange ideas and experiences and share their love for books and bookselling!

Day 4
Thursday marked the last day of the dedicated programme – and our RISE booksellers had quite an early start. All of them got to attend the European and International Booksellers Federation’s (EIBF) annual conference, which brought together a list of speakers who shared their ideas about the future of bookselling with an eager audience.

From Enrique Pascual Pons, President of the Madrid Booksellers Guild and bookseller at Librerías Marcial Pons (Spain) who spoke on the topic of hybrid bookselling, through Jeff Deutsch, author of ‘In Praise of Good Bookstores’ and director of Seminary Co-op Bookstores (USA), Laura Karlsson, Director of the Finnish Booksellers Association, who presented the green initiatives in the Finnish bookselling industry, to Patrick Schneebeli, President of the Swiss LIBER Association who presented the LIBER project – the conference was packed with innovative insights. A roundtable with international booksellers – Aidai Maksatbekova (IQ Bookstore LTD, Kyrgyzstan), Katerina Malakate (Booktalks, Greece) and Joao Varella (Banca Tatui, Brasil), moderated by the UK & Ireland’s Booksellers Association President Hazel Broadfoot was the cherry on top for our group of booksellers, who were thrilled to hear about the experience of their fellow colleagues from abroad.

After the conference, we witnessed the speech of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who took the opportunity of the whole book trade being together to address the importance of book and knowledge in his current fight against Russian invasion. Hosted by the Federation of European Publishers (FEP), this exclusive gathering highlighted the need for the book community to keep on fighting for the written word.

And then it was almost time to say goodbye – but not before a delicious dinner at a traditional German apfelwein restaurant!

The event brought together a group of booksellers from all over the world, giving them a chance to network, share their love for their profession, form new connections, gain valuable insights, and establish new friendships. Hopefully, it is not a goodbye, but a ‘see you soon’!

September 19, 2022

Webinar on Selling children’s books: How to do it differently?

Listen again to our first webinar from the RISE Bookselling webinar series, exploring the joys and hardships of selling children’s books in modern times.    

Selling children's books: How to do it differently?

Children's book buying can sometimes be an overwhelming task with a market that is only growing bigger, more diverse and more complicated. It is understandable that buyers choose to focus on nostalgic titles they know parents and grandparents will buy, but modern children are disconnecting from these titles. Therefore, the focus on nostalgia can damage a child's love of reading if they do not see the world they recognise reflected in the books they are reading. By embracing the future and the past, and encouraging parents and grandparents to think outside of the books they are familiar with, booksellers can ensure the future of their shops and nurture a love of books in the next generation.

Zaida Pérez Gómez and Gráinne O'Brien share their insights on selling children's books.

We welcomed Gráinne O’Brien, children's books buyer for O'Mahony's booksellers, Ireland, and Zaida Pérez Gómez, owner of children’s bookshop Liberespacio in Spain as our guest speakers. With about a decade of experience each, Gráinne and Zaida share the same passion for helping children discover the joy of reading, but also many of the same challenges in the meeting with parents, grandparents, and even an entire industry inclined towards more nostalgic book titles than what the children actually want to read.

Continue the conversation with Gráinne and Zaida on Twitter at @Gra_Obrien and @liberespacio and read more about Zadia’s campaign “Leer es una fiesta” (Reading is a Party) here.

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The RISE Bookselling webinars aim to help bookshops stay up to date with the latest trends in the bookselling sector to ensure their long-term success. We want to provide you with good practices and resources and with a space to exchange ideas with other booksellers.

July 13, 2022

Insights from Angers: French booksellers gather for RNL 2022

Three booksellers from different parts of the world accompanied EIBF team to the national conference for booksellers in France

Les Rencontres Nationales (RNL) de la Librairie is a biennial conference dedicated entirely to bookselling and booksellers organised by the Syndicat de la Librairie Française (SLF). This year the RNL took the participants to the bustling city of Angers in western France to discuss bookselling post COVID-19, sustainability solutions for the sector, and the future for the bookselling profession, among many other topics.

L-R: Oana Dobosi, Marianne Reiner, Tora Åsling, Olaf Tigchelaar, Julie Belgrado

EIBF Director Julie Belgrado and EIBF Policy Assistant Tora Åsling were joined by Marianne Reiner, bookseller at La Playa Books in San Diego, USA, Olaf Tigchelaar, bookseller at Kramer & van Doorn in Zeist, the Netherlands, and Oana Dobosi, bookseller at La Două Bufniţe in Timisoara, Romania, in Angers for this exciting event. Keep reading to hear their impressions from these days full of new encounters and insights.

WELCOMING EVENT and BOOKSHOP CRAWL
On the second day of July, as RNL attendants were arriving to a sunny and warm Angers in anticipation of the upcoming conference, ten Angevine bookshops opened up their doors to showcase their diverse offer of books, share their passion for bookselling, and taste a glass of wine from local vineyards around the Loire valley. Instead of a traditional pub crawl, the Association des librairies indédependantes en Pays de la Loire (ALIP) in partnership with the bookshops of Angers, invited RNL guests to discover Angers through an innovative and immersive “bookshop crawl”. Meeting new colleagues among the bookshelves of Angers was a delightful experience that won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

Children's bookshop La Lucide in Angers

DAY 1
After a small breakfast and warm welcoming by SLF, participants were thrown straight into business with presentation of several studies on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on bookshops, French people’s reading habits, and statistics from the French book market. Confronted with diminishing number of readers, booksellers could still seek comfort in the fact that the French reported a strong attachment to their local bookshops. This high esteem seems to be a reflection of why bookshops in France were considered essential during the pandemic.

Later, French minister for Culture, Rima Abdul Malak, joined the conference. “France is a country of readers,” she said and emphasised the important role bookshops hold in society. Moreover, she thanked French booksellers for their collaboration in introducing the cultural pass, which is a project aiming to motivate young people to read by providing them with a voucher charged with a sum of money to spend exclusively on cultural activities and goods, such as books.

French minister for Culture, Rima Abdul Malak

Panel: The future of consumption
RISE participant, Marianne Reiner, originally from France but now working as a bookseller in the USA, shared her insights about the daily life of American booksellers with her French colleagues. She talked about bookshops as cultural hubs, and how they can benefit more than one business, for instance by hosting author events at the coffee shop next door.

The panel also discussed the rise of digital giants, which in France are often referred to as the GAFAM (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft). Coming from the US, where Amazon’s virtual monopoly of the online market is a real burden to independent booksellers, Marianne implored her French colleagues to take stock of the situation and act quickly against the threat the giant multinational platform poses to their market.

Panel: Sustainable bookselling – examples from abroad
It is not an understatement to say that climate change was one of the most prioritised topics of this year’s edition of the RNL. Its importance was underlined in many panels, not the least in the panel moderated by EIBF Director Julie Belgrado on sustainability initiatives in bookselling from abroad. The roundtable explored climate initiatives in Quebec and the French speaking world, as well as in the Nordic countries.

As an example, EIBF’s Policy Assistant Tora Åsling brought up the Swedish project, “the climate intiative,” which is a cooperative project between the Swedish Booksellers association, Publishers association, online retailers and streaming services aiming to once and for all map out the environmental imprint of the entire sector. The idea is that, in the face of the current climate crisis, the book sector needs to set competition aside and fight climate change together to be able to succeed in decreasing their environmental imprint.

DAY 2
Panel: Dissemination and distribution, are there other possible models?
In a panel featuring booksellers from Quebec, Germany, and the Netherlands, three different kinds of distribution systems were examined and discussed. For instance, Olaf Tigchelaar, explained how the Dutch centralised system allows for 24-hour deliveries.

Oana Dobosi (second from the left) at a panel

Closing panel: Bookshop, “I love you, me neither…”
The closing panel gathered a roundtable of experienced booksellers discussing bookselling as a profession vacillating between passion and pressure, pleasure and exhaustion, recognition and disrepute. RISE participant, Oana Dobosi explained how the love of bookselling led her to become creative during the pandemic, e.g., by inventing a new business model and selling “books to go” through her shop window, hosting story times for the young audience via zoom, and starting a website to keep her business going and connecting with customers.

And that was it! Two days filled with discussions, interactions, and learning that left many booksellers with a head full of ideas as they went back home. On behalf of RISE Bookselling, we give our warmest thanks to our bookseller guests and SLF for hosting us.

June 14, 2022

A celebration of bookselling diversity at CEGAL 2022 event

Last week, thanks to RISE Bookselling, we attended the Spanish Confederation of Booksellers' Associations and Guilds (CEGAL - Confederación Española de Gremios y Asociaciones de Libreros, in Spanish) 2022 Bookselling Congress.

The 25th edition of CEGAL’s Bookselling Congress (Congreso de Librerias) was held between 22-25th June at the Casa del Lector in Madrid, Spain. With the slogan “A thousand worlds, one universe” the aim of the Congress was to showcase the diversity of the Spanish bookselling landscape, while giving them a space to address common challenges, discuss practical solutions and present opportunities to ensure the sector’s continuous growth and development.

Over the course of two days, we followed a series of panels and workshops addressing priority topics for Spanish booksellers.

Let’s take a look!

Day 1: How can we ensure bookshops are supported?

The Congress kicked off with a panel introducing the Spanish Recovery and Resilience plan and its direct support for the book sector. Maria José Galvez, Director of Books and Reading Promotion at the Spanish Ministry for Culture & Sports, gave a detailed explanation of the opportunities available both through the Spanish recovery plan as well as through the Spanish government’s own resources. These include, among others, easier access for smaller bookshops to public contracts, a reading promotion plan, the introduction of a cultural voucher and the prioritisation of vocational training for bookselling.

The following session introduced the results of a “mystery shopper” study, which analysed customer service trends in Spanish bookshops. Overall, booksellers scored very well, proving their dedication in providing the best possible experience for buyers. However, the results also showed some room for improvement, namely on booksellers’ correspondence over the phone.

The morning ended it with a debate on booksellers' chances in securing public contracts with libraries. EIBF’s Policy Advisor, Daniel Martin Brennan, gave a presentation on the process of booksellers securing public contracts across different European countries, highlighting that there is a general concern about the lack of inclusion of smaller bookshops in the process across Europe. However, such opportunities are still strongly influenced by national legislation and national, as well as regional, specificities.

RISE Bookselling was also introduced to the Spanish bookselling audience, who expressed interest in all the activities the programme has to offer, such as the booksellers’ exchange opportunities, their participation in international events and the first ever pan-European and international Bookselling Conference.

For the afternoon session, we were joined by bestselling author Joël Dicker, who was there to present his new book “The Case of Alaska Saunders”. He highlighted the crucial role of booksellers in the book value chain and wished all the attendees a summer full of sales. He even had time to sign a few copies of his new book, which we of course took advantage of!

We then moved to the workshop sessions, which covered a topic many booksellers will admit being scared of: the sale of manga in their bookshops.

With a huge surge in sales across Europe, including the Spanish book market, manga specialist Oriol Estrada Rangil – also known as «Capitán Urias» – provided a detailed historical overview and analysis of this fascinating genre, which is here to stay!

Day 1 ended with an informal conversation among Spanish and German booksellers, who were joined on stage by two Spanish authors with German translations, to discuss translation opportunities and future cooperation for the sector, in light of Spain being a Guest of Honour at this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair.

Day 2: A turning point for the bookselling industry

After a long and productive day, we were ready for more!  Day 2, the final day of the Congress, started off with a presentation by Jesús Trueba on TodosTusLibros: a platform run by indie booksellers that is on the rise in Spain and promises to be revolutionary in process of bookselling. Trueba presented changes and improvements to the platform for the benefit of booksellers and customers alike.

This panel was followed by an insightful analysis by bookseller Enrique Pascual on the best retail model for booksellers in the years to come: a hybrid bookshop. He highlighted the value of brick-and-mortar bookstores and their crucial role in connecting to and interacting with readers, while also emphasizing their need to lean on new and helpful digital tools & innovation to help their bookshops grow and keep up to date with consumer needs.

The last panel of the day brought a stark reality into light, as the challenges and inefficiencies of the sector were dissected. The panel was quick to pinpoint the main culprit: too many new titles and a growing increase in returns. With the ongoing climate change crisis, the rise in inflation and the increasing energy costs, the current model is not sustainable. What is the alternative? Slowing down and prioritising quality over quantity, it seems. Overall, it was an inspiring and fruitful congress packed with debates, challenges, discussions and opportunities for the sector. But most importantly, it was a moment of rediscovery, reconnecting and sharing the passion for bookselling.

The Congress also benefitted from the participation of an international bookseller from Guatemala (Libreria SOPHOS), who was able to engage with fellow booksellers in Spain over common priorities thanks to RISE Bookselling.

We look forward to our upcoming RISE international event at the Rencontres nationales de la librairie (RNL) in Angers,France, as well as CEGAL’s next Bookselling Congress in Pamplona, in 2024.

¡Hasta pronto!

June 14, 2022

EIBF joins Sharjah Booksellers Conference


Communications Advisor Jasmina Kanuric spotlights the new trends in bookselling at a two-day event 

The Sharjah international booksellers conference brought together booksellers and book sector professionals from all over the world. Taking place in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, the global bookselling community gathered for a two-day conference, filled with exciting panels, insightful keynotes, and various networking opportunities.  

The conference was held over two days, between 16 and 17 May 2022. During the opening ceremony of the inaugural International Booksellers Conference at the Sharjah Book Authority Headquarters, the participants could hear from His Excellency Ahmed Al Ameri, Chairman of the Sharjah Book Authority, and Bodour Al Qasimi, President of the International Publishers Association.  

In her opening keynote, Bodour shared her international perspective on the resiliency of the book industry and the role robust and creative collaboration between booksellers, publishers, libraries and authors will play in driving the industry forward.  

Day 1

Panel 1: Digital, e-commerce, and social media  

During the first panel, Kuo-Yu Liang moderated a session on best practice and case studies for engaging with bookselling communities and growing sales through digital channels, including websites, social media, newsletters and e-commerce. 

The speakers included Mohamed Kandil, Molhimon Publishing and Distributions, UAE, Adedotun Eyinade, Roving Heights, Nigeria, Giorgia Russo, La Feltrinelli Internet Bookshop, Italy, and Nana Awere Damoah, Booknook, Ghana.  

In their presentations, all panelists highlighted the importance of using social media analytics for shaping their strategy, as well as maintaining a continuous engagement with audiences.  

Panel 2: Stock curation, presentation, and customer service  

The second panel of the day explored how having well curated and presented stock to maximise browsing and discovery is essential to sales. In addition, staff trained in bookselling and customer service are also key skills to generate book sales.  

Led by Simon Littlewood, international publishing consultant, the participants heard from Peter Kacmar, Ikar, Slovakia, Kenny Chan, (former) Kinokuniya Asia, Singapore, Remi Morgan, Laterna Ventures, Nigeria, and Sonia Draga, Sonia Draga Bookstores, Poland, during the panel.  

“One of the most important things, as far as running a bookstore is concerned, is ensuring you have the right product when it is needed. Many years ago, I read a report, based on a survey that looked at a set of bookstores to determine what current bestsellers were. The survey was conducted during a peak buying time and it turned out that the percentage of stock out was very high, about 60%. Stock outs represent lost sales. That resonated with me, and I decided to always try to determine what the bestsellers are or will be and then ensure we will not run out of stock too early,” highlighted Remi, explaining how to manage the risks involved with maintaining optimum inventory as a book seller.  

Closing keynote: Trends in international bookselling  

EIBF’s communications advisor Jasmina Kanuric gave a closing keynote speech during the first day of the conference. In her presentation, Jasmina highlight the global bookselling state of play, comparing bookselling sales numbers in various key markets in the period of 2019 to 2021.  

“I don’t think it’ll come as a surprise to anyone to hear that the two years of pandemic have reshaped the global bookselling industry. Booksellers across the world have seen their business models changing, having to move away from traditional bookselling overnight. At the same time, consumer behaviour changed, favouring a more digital approach, which also coincides with a spike in digital sales channels and the rise of audiobook market, among others. However, in many countries, bookshops are now considered essential businesses,” said Jasmina, focusing on the pandemic period.  

However, in stark contrast to 2020, book sales data from 2021 shows that the global bookselling market is recovering from the pandemic (op. half of the surveyed markets in 2020 experienced a drop in sales by more that 10%). In 2021, in 70% of surveyed countries, the sales have increased by 5% at least. In a third of all countries, sales numbers reached +10% or more. In some cases, for example in France, end of year holidays sales broke all records, and contributed to such amazing sales numbers across the board.  

However, there are a few caveats to this. First, and probably the most important one, not all growth is equitable. While overall sales grew, physical retail in brick and mortar bookshops remained impacted by lockdowns and lower customer traffic. On the other hand, the largest growth was seen in digital sales and for streaming services.  

On discussing future development opportunities, Jasmina highlighted: “It’s important for booksellers to continue raising their digital presence and optimize their online sales channels, even with the return to more established business models. There’s also a need to build a pipeline of events, this used to be a staple in our industry, but the pandemic really disrupted that. Reviving high streets and attracting customers to city centers goes along with this – many people are still working from home regularly, so tapping into that customer segment is important.”  

You can find Jasmina’s presentation here, while the full EIBF’s 2021 bookselling report will be released in the upcoming weeks.  

Day 2 

Opening keynote: Shelf life – chronicles of a Cairo bookseller 

Nadia Wassef, writer and co-founder of Diwan Bookstore, started the activities on the second day of the conference. In her keynote address, Nadia praised the role of booksellers in communities, building on her long experience within the industry. Twenty years ago, Nadia co-founded the Diwan Bookstore in Cairo, without any previous experience. Her journey included many steep learning curves, but the Diwan bookstores are now a thriving business.  

"Bookshops are characters with changing personalities, and bookselling is a conversation,” Nadia said, encouraging everyone to continue having many conversations with their customers, community, and colleagues around the world.  

Panel 3: Working with publishers, authors, festivals and schools  

Lola Shoneyin, Ake Book Festival, Nigeria, Gaurav Shrinagesh, Penguin Random House, India, Swati Roy, Bookaroo, India, and Tina Mamulashvili, Sulakauri, Georgia, spoke about many relationships booksellers juggle to ensure their stores reach the highest potential. Moderated by Therese Nasr, from the Ingram Publishing Services, the panel explored how being at the heart of a community and a destination for knowledge, information and reading for pleasure, means booksellers are constantly building and expanding solid partnerships with publishers, authors, festivals, and schools.  

Panel 4: New business models 

Bookshops are increasingly diversifying beyond the traditional models. We are seeing bookstores now with cafes, with non-book products, and taking advantage of new services. The fourth panel of the conference explored how diversification can work in practice, looking at experiences from four countries. The speakers presented what worked and what didn’t work in their circumstances, including the role of Print on Demand for booksellers.  

The participants heard from Agne Ahi, a bookseller at Apollo bookstore chain from Estonia, Akshaya Rautaray, from Walking Book Fairs, India, Hassan Ali, Lightning Source, Sharjah, and Keith Thong, UBSM, Malaysia. From cinema partnerships to innovative book-tuk truck that bring books to children in rural areas in India, the speakers highlighted the important role of bookselling for enabling access to books and culture to all.  

The conference closed with a final keynote speech, where Nana Lohrengel, General Secretary of the Umberto and Elisabetta Mauri Foundation, presented the Italian training initiative for booksellers. The school is now also running month-long practical placements, where participants get to experience first-hand how bookselling life is in different countries in the world.  

CATEGORIES

June 14, 2022

Booksellers join the Bologna Children’s Book Fair

In partnership with BBPlus and RISE Bookselling, EIBF hosts a group of international booksellers at this year's BCBF 2022 

European and International Booksellers Federation this year launched a partnership with the BBPlus, an international arm of the Bologna Children's Book Fair, to host a group of European booksellers at this important industry event. Building on the RISE Bookselling programme, we invited 8 booksellers to join the Fair, establish new connections across the continent and improve knowledge sharing across borders. 

Meet the booksellers

We organised a two-day conference dedicated to bookselling, which took part on 21 and 22 March 2022. The group included Trish Hennessy, owner of the Halfway up the Stairs Children’s Bookshop in Ireland, Hannah Rials, bookseller at Mr B's Emporium Of Reading Delights in United Kingdom, Maren Kleppen, bookseller at Per Magnussen Bokhandel in Norway, Raluca Selejan and Oana Doboși, co-founders and managing partners of La Două Bufnițe bookshop in Romania, as well as Livia Hector, a bookseller at La Două Bufnițe. Inara Belinkaja, Managing Director of Janis Roze bookshops in Latvia and Ainars Roze, Head of the Board for Janis Roze bookshops, completed the group. 

Day 1: From insights into the Italian book market to the Ragazzi Award Ceremony 

During the first day at the BCBF, the booksellers attended the Opening Ceremony of the Fair, followed by conference focusing on the Italian book market. Organised by the Italian Publishers Association, in collaboration with Italian Trade Agency and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the event spotlighting how the Italian book market fared in 2021 and compared the insights with figures from 2020 and 2019. During the event, we learnt that the Italian book market experienced unprecedented growth in 2021, with print book segment growing by 16%. This trend is reflected in many European countries, as shared by the Italian Publishers Association. However, the growth is not equal across all trade channels. Online sales, including those from physical bookshops, are continuing to increase. 

The booksellers also had an opportunity to meet the BBPlus Author Ambassador Michèle Roberts, and exchanged opinions on literature in translation and their experience in stocking translated literature on their bookshelves. Maren Kleppen pointed out that many people are fluent in English in Norway, with people preferring to read books in original language if they are available. 

In the afternoon, the booksellers had an opportunity to join a guided tour of the Fair, led by Isabella Del Monte, Product Specialist with the Bologna Children's Book Fair. After that, they explored the many bookshops in Bologna's town centre.  

The evening finished with a gala ceremony, celebrating the winners of the Ragazzi Awards. Trish Hennessy stepped into the spotlight on the stage to present the award in the comic categories. 

Day 2: From the SDG book club insights to promoting reading in vulnerable settings 

The Tuesday programme kicked off with a panel on the SDG book club, where Raluca Selejan spoke about her experience in highlighting SDG themes in bookshops and how to approach the 'big topics' with children and their parents. 

The booksellers then joined a seminar looking at obstacles to reading across the world. The event focused on regions and communities where access to books, bookshops and libraries is challenged - a situation which has been exacerbated globally by deepening social inequalities and the pandemic. 

Booksellers panel: Living with books, living with Covid

In the afternoon, within the scope of the Bologna Book Plus programme, EIBF hosted a panel exploring how booksellers across Europe are dealing with pandemic-influenced changes to the industry. Speakers included Maren Kleppen, Hannah Rials and Raluca Selejan, while the event was moderated by the EIBF director Julie Belgrado. 

In a 45-minute discussion, the speakers focused on three themes: how the pandemic impacted customer behaviour, how booksellers experienced the pandemic, and what lies ahead for the sector. In a contrast between the countries, Maren and Hannah highlighted how book sales in Norway and UK went up during the pandemic, which has not been the case for Romania, as shared by Raluca. In Norway, the Government encouraged citizens to turn to bookshops for home entertainment, which was an additional boost to the sector. However, in the second year of the pandemic, Norway experienced the first lockdown, and booksellers had to be creative to keep up with customers. Social media played an important role in keeping the interaction going: "Our customers give us tips, as much as we give them tips. That's how we grow as booksellers," said Maren during the panel, who works as a bookseller at Per Magnussen Bokhandel. 

While many people found their love of reading again during the pandemic, many booksellers found they have less time to keep up with all the reading they were doing before. Hannah, a bookseller at Mr B's Emporium Of Reading Delights, said that during the lockdown, when the shop was closed, the team worked from home a few days, while other days they were in the store preparing the books to be shipped to customers. While normally, they might've filled their time with reading, in this situation, they focused on finding new ways to interact with their customers, such as providing book recommendations in a new format and hosting author interviews online: "We wanted to bring a lighted focus on the interview and at some point we were asking all the authors joining our calls what is one of the weirdest items they have in their houses - the answers were quite surprising," said Hannah. 

The panel also looked at the future of bookselling, especially in light of the war in Ukraine. Raluca, who is a bookseller in Romania, explained how in their bookshop, the Two Owls in Timisoara, they started curating shelves focusing on how to talk about conflict, displacement and refugees with children. "We soon realised there aren't many books on these topics in Romanian," said Raluca, highlighting an important gap in children's literature. 

The panel finished with the speakers giving practical tips to aspiring booksellers: "Wear comfortable shoes and talk with your customers," was the insight shared by Hannah. 

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