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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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