On September 30th, we gathered in Hinckley, UK, with booksellers from across the UK for the British bookselling event of the year: the Bookselling Association of UK and Ireland’s annual conference. Through the RISE Bookselling programme, we brought 9 international booksellers from all corners of the world with us, and we were all buzzing with excitement for the upcoming days.
The event kicked off with a traditional English afternoon tea in the company of up-and-coming authors who presented their new works to us – to the delight of all with a sweet tooth and a penchant for literature. After getting a few advance copies of the authors’ works signed, we were swept away to the customary drinks for new and old attendees. There we mingled, happy to see new and old faces and discuss bookish things. The evening continued in a crescendo of delicious meals and the thrilling discovery of new literary talents, as more authors had been invited to speak to us during our dinner. Around midnight, the party retired to bed to enjoy some beauty sleep before the following day’s exciting activities.
The following day started with a bang as Clive Myrie, journalist, newsreader and presenter for the BBC, spoke to a room full of attentive booksellers about his new memoir Everything is Everything. Clive shared heartfelt accounts from his upbringing and exhilarating stories from his professional life covering conflicts and pivotal events across the globe, and the audience couldn’t get enough.
This was followed by an inspirational and uplifting keynote speech by BA President Hazel Broadfoot, after which we once again had the joy of listening to the talented Iris Hunscheid tell us about the exciting German project harnessing AI to the benefit of bookselling. (If you missed this presentation at the RISE conference in Prague or at the BA conference in Hinckley, don’t fret – you'll get another chance at the EIBF conference in Frankfurt! Find out more here)
Next, we were off to the skills lab sessions! Ever wondered how to create your ideal bookshop culture, how to handle authorless events or how to have effective conversations to solve conflicts? All this and more was presented, discussed and debated during the afternoon in Hinckley, leaving all attendees full of ideas and an eagerness to get to work incorporating everything in their bookshops.
The event was concluded by another literary dinner, where conversations soared, and the food was accompanied by funny and witty speeches from outstanding children’s book authors. After these two daysfilled with fantastic speakers, insightful and practical sessions, and overall so much passion for bookselling, the EIBF / RISE team and our RISE international booksellers left Hinckley full of ideas, connections and inspiration!
Report from my exchange with Krumulus children’s bookstore in Berlin
Krumulus owner Anna Morlinghaus and Bokskogen guest Anna Weilemar
Anna Morlinghaus, a children's bookseller at Bokskogen bookshop in Farsta (Sweden), had a great time as a participant in the second round of the RISE Booksellers Exchange. Through this opportunity, Anna was able to learn the ropes of the Berlin bookshop Krumulus for three days. Read some of the key learnings that she got from this experience!
I have spent three wonderful and inspiring days at Krumulus in Kreuzberg, Berlin, with owner Anna Morlinghaus and her fantastic staff Kerstin, Sven, Annette and Max. They immediately made me feel very welcome and to start off the first day I was thrown into a great interactive story hour with some 4-5-year-olds from a nearby “Kita” (Kindergarten). I even got to introduce myself in German and tell the group a little bit about Sweden.
Krumulus was founded by Anna in 2014 and has developed to be a well-known children’s bookstore and cultural hub, winning the German Booksellers Award no less than three times! There are events taking place almost every day of the week – apart from story hours there are reading club meetings, printing workshops, birthday parties and more.
Here I have listed a few things that I learnt:
Purchasing and book distribution
New books are often chosen from the publishers’ catalogues and ordered ahead of every season. Re-stocking orders are placed everyday with delivery the next day! Most orders are done in “Libri”, one of several wholesalers of books, but they sometimes order directly from the “Verlage” (publishers) also.
The delivery costs are according to weight and it’s only a few Euro per delivery (in Sweden freight costs are much higher!). There are certain freight companies serving bookstores only and because of very good logistical planning they can keep the costs down. Books come in reusable plastic boxes and these are also used for returning books, e.g. damaged books or books that haven’t sold (must be returned within 6 months).
The bookstore gets a discount on the “Buchpreis”, which is then its margin. The more books that are bought, the higher a discount. Bookstores in Sweden can get discounts on the “F-pris” (the publisher sales price which is set) and sell the books at around 40-50%* more which is very high according to German standards.
(*depending on the bookstore of course, online the figure is much less)
Krumulus sales/inventory system is connected to Libri so at the end of the day they can quickly see which books need to be restocked and place the order directly. When books are delivered, they are scanned to be put in the system – so no manual work here!!
The sales price is set by the publishers “Buchpreisbindung” so the book price is the same on ALL books in Germany, protecting smaller book stores since customers can’t get the books cheaper even online.
Books are already price marked when they arrive so this is nothing the staff have to worry about!
The Buchpreisbindung also means that the store cannot reduce prices on books/sell out books. They are allowed, though, to sell new books that are slightly damaged at a lower price.
(In Sweden there is an annual official book sale period where books are sold at much cheaper prices, this has been tradition for many years. The official start date is determined by the Swedish Booksellers Association and the bookstores decide for how long they will run the sale.)
Krumulus also has an online shop which is totally run by an external company. It means pretty much no extra work but they get a percentage of the books sales (unless the book is ordered for pick up in the store, in which case they pay a small percentage instead).
Sales to schools and libraries: Krumulus delivers books to some schools and libraries, in which case they also put the books in plastic foil and label the books – a lot of hard work. (In Sweden it is pretty much impossible to se to sell directly to state owned schools and libraries because of public procurement, but my shop has sold some books to private schools and pre-schools.)
Before I arrived, I thought that the events arranged at Krumulus would bring in a lot more income for the store than it actually does (it’s about 20/80 compared with book sales). I thought perhaps that kindergartens and schools pay more per child to participate (like when children’s books authors come to schools in Sweden they get paid a standard fee). The events are part of the business because they create visibility (PR/Marketing) and of course because they are fun and add something to the local community.
The interactive story hours for kindergartens are held two days a week and local “kitas” pay a small fee per child to participate. The gallery room that is used shows different exhibitions with the illustrations from a certain book around which the stories are told, sometimes around a certain theme.
Printing workshops are held for the public two afternoons a week and there is a small fee for each child. When I was there the workshop was potato printing based on a book about a potato! It was very interactive and the children got to help cutting the potato stamps and then go down to the basement studio to print with different colours.
Krumulus also has two different reading clubs for up to 10 years of age and from 11 years of age – “die Lesewölfe” (the Reading Wolves) and they meet every month. When I was at Krumulus they met up with both groups in preparation for a visit at the Leipziger Book Fair, where they were planning visiting some stands/publishers, meeting and interviewing authors etc. A really big project that seemed to be meticulously planned and organized!
The basement can also be booked for children’s birthday parties, which also brings some income to the business.
Book signings/”Buchpremieren”: Krumulus also has a lot of release events for new books where the authors sometimes get paid by their publisher, but the bookshop doesn’t have to pay the usual fee for an author visit.
When discussing this with Anna Morlinghaus, we agreed on that Instagram is an important “window” out to customers and others and also that it is very time consuming to maintain a good flow in social media. Anna used to do much of the writing and photography herself, but now gets help from some of the other employees. Also, with writing the monthly newsletter which is sent out to 2,000 addresses (my newsletter reaches 400 addresses 😊)
Krumulus used to print fantastic programs listing all their events etc. but now they just have digital programs.
Other interesting things learnt
A couple of interesting things to learn was that there is actually a Bookseller university degree in Germany and that even in the biggest cities (e.g. Munich) there is not one single children’s bookstore!
At end of February, the RISE Bookselling team travelled to Cork, Ireland to attend the Irish Book Trade annual conference. Accompanied by a delegation of 10 international booksellers from the RISE Bookselling project’s support to international events, they spent two days in the small Irish town which offered cold weather, but warm people and, most importantly, passionate booksellers who discussed burning topics for the Irish bookselling trade. Read our impressions from these eventful and inspiring days.
Upon our arrival, after a quick stop at the trade show, we were welcomed by the Bookselling Ireland committee and almost immediately swept away on a bookshop tour to discover Cork through its colourful bookshop scene. After having visited both independent bookshops and chains who sold new and second-hand books, we returned to the hotel and conference venue with significantly heavier bags.
After a quick break, all conference attendants gathered again to enjoy a dinner together, listen to inspiring keynote speeches from up-and-coming Irish authors Catherine Ryan Howard, Joseph Murray and Niamh Mulvey and celebrate Amy Devereux, from The Book Centre bookshop, who won The O’Brien Press Bookseller of the Year Award 2023.
The second day of the Irish Book Trade Conference kicked off with a welcome word by the leaders of Bookselling Ireland, Publishing Ireland and the Booksellers Association. Aoife Roantree, Chair of Bookselling Ireland, took to the stage to introduce this year’s Manifesto from the Booksellers Association, which provides a detailed account of the associations’ key aims, intentions, and views in relation to the bookselling industry in Ireland today, and public policy relating to it. Among other interesting facts, we learned that in 2021, each €1 spent in an Irish bookshop generated €2.40 in the wider economy!
Next, Meryl Halls, managing director of the Booksellers Association, shared with the delegates the latest updates on the situation of bookselling in Ireland and the UK, and we were happy to learn that the number of independent bookshops in the area is growing, and so is the association’s membership. A presentation given by Nielsen allowed our booksellers to gain better understanding of the Irish book market sales and trends in 2022 and their possible future in 2023.
Aside from gaining knowledge about the inner workings of the Irish and British book markets, our booksellers took part in breakout sessions led by experts in the field and aimed to provide practical tips applicable in any bookshop in the world – from bookseller training to stock and margin management or digital marketing.
Two discussion panels, focused on the topics of the value of books and bookshop events also provided a valuable source of inspiration, as did the closing keynote given by Claire Walsh, freediver and author of Under Water: How Holding My Breath Taught Me To Live. And after that, it was time to say goodbye to Ireland - knowing we’re leaving the conference energised, inspired and with even greater excitement for the world of bookselling.
Get an insight into the key takeaways that Katja and her host Tegan got from this experience and read the review that they wrote together after the exchange!
That’s me, Katja, in front of the bookstore’s signboard
Surprises about German bookselling
Minimum price on front list enforced by publishers
Not as much emphasis on "Street Smart" (strict on-sale dates)
POS/ website provided by distributor
No used book market in Germany
Katja’s store places orders after the sales day; if orders are placed by 5:30 pm, books ordered will arrive the next day!
With such quick turnaround on orders from the two warehouses, frontlist seasonal ordering is not as make-or-break
[I’m trying to remember what it was about sales tax that surprised me! ]
Surprises about US bookselling
Different prices for the same, new book everywhere
Release dates are always Tuesdays. In Germany we don't have (at least for some bestsellers) a binding release date, but not on a special workday.
POS and Sales Program are not connected, and so is the Edelweiss and POS
Several second hand bookshops in town
Orders are delivered by the post, not by a specific book delivery company. Books come in normal cardboard boxes. Usually in Germany we have reusable carriers, that they take back to fill them the other day again.
Depending on one distributor only, that delivers frequently, is (also the price differences kept in mind) quite scary! It's absolutely liberating to be that flexible.
The reduced sales tax on books in Germany is 7%, the normal sales tax e.g. for clothes is 19%. The tax is already included in the price that is printed on the book.
I was surprised that almost all the books don’t come wrapped in plastic - which is a very good thing! In Germany some publishers have the plastic wrapping, but more and more do it without the plastic foil.
In Germany we have multiple distributors, that are all very well organized (e.g. logistically).
1/ I’d heard of minimum advertised price in France, but I thought that was enforced by the Egovernment rather than publishers. Interesting to think that if federal governments won’t enact and enforce bookseller-friendly legislation, perhaps private companies can (so long as there isn’t violation of American anti-trust laws).
In Germany the book prices are set by the publishers, but the law (Buchpreisbindungsgesetz - BuchPrG) is binding. So, the publishers define the price, and the law protects it, which I think is an absolute privilege.
2/ DER SPIEGEL magazine is the main bestseller list in Germany. (I see that over 4,000 German bookstores report vs. I think almost 1,000 indie bookstores in the US, even though there are about 2,500 indie bookstores who are ABA members, so fewer than half.) *I forgot to ask how German sales are reported for bestseller lists! In the US, because there are different Point of Sale systems, some stores, like ours, have to create a bestseller report and upload it; there is something called BookScan that is used nationally across channels, there is the New York Times reporting site, and there is Indie Bestseller reporting. Depending on the store’s computer system, some might be automated or some might be done jointly.
The bestseller lists are determined by electronic queries in the merchandise management systems of bookselling POS. As part of the SPIEGEL-Bestseller analytics by media control cooperation, sales data from 6.550 stationary and e- commerce POS in Germany are currently being analyzed to compile the SPIEGEL bestseller lists. The POS include retail bookstores (on location and chain stores), online stores, train station bookstores, department stores, and secondary markets (including consumer electronics retailers and drugstore chains with media offerings). The available sales data from the previous week is analyzed each Monday afternoon.
The data is imported daily into media control's database. They provide a very accurate picture of market activity and reflect sales with a slight time lag. In order to obtain meaningful bestseller lists that provide orientation, the titles are sorted according to content criteria and book types such as hardcover, paperback and "Taschenbuch" (which is the smallest paperback book in Germany). The number of copies sold per title determines the respective order in the rankings.
The regulations are quite strict and confusing - but I thought it might be interesting for you:
Newly revised criteria have applied to the SPIEGEL bestseller lists for fiction and nonfiction since October 1, 2012. They govern which books are considered and on which list.
The following content and editorial requirements apply to the SPIEGEL bestseller lists for hardcover and paperback:
It must be an original or German first edition in printed form.
It must be an individual, original work.
Reference works, compilations, compilations of previously published texts, textbooks, guidebooks (e.g., cookbooks, medical guides, fitness manuals), travel guides, comics, and gift books and illustrated books are not considered.
Children's and young adult books are generally not considered. However, books that reach beyond the target group of children and young people to a large extent also reach adults (all-ages titles, with age indication from 14 years).
Humorous treatments of nonfiction topics are published (as before) on the nonfiction bestseller lists, provided that the focus is clearly on conveying information and knowledge. Other humor titles are classified as fiction.
In the case of parallel editions of the same title (e.g. juvenile and adult editions), the sales of these parallel editions are added together, provided that they have identical sales price and content; the more frequently sold edition is shown in the list.
Foreign language editions are taken into account. If both the German-language and foreign-language editions can place, the edition that sells more frequently is taken into account.
The following deviating rules apply to the SPIEGEL bestseller list for paperbacks:
In the nonfiction segment, humorously exaggerated reports, whimsical compilations, and general guidebooks are also taken into account, but not travel guides, schoolbooks, and textbooks.
Both licensed editions (secondary exploitations of hardcover and paperback editions) and original editions, German first editions, as well as new and special editions are considered.
Which publisher rules apply to the SPIEGEL bestseller lists:
With the more diversified size and layout formats in recent years, the assignments must also be described more precisely in formal terms. Criteria here are characteristics that the target group of book buyers also recognizes.
These characteristics are described below as a guide for publishers from the manufacturer's point of view.
For the SPIEGEL bestseller list hardcover, a hardcover original edition or German first edition must fulfill all of the following four criteria in addition to the content and editorial criteria (see above):
Three-sided projecting edges
Three-part book cover
Fully glued endpapers 1 and 4
Open (free) spine
In addition to the content and editorial criteria (see above), a paperback original edition or German first edition must meet the following two for the SPIEGEL bestseller list paperback:
Page height at least 20.5 cm
Flap on cover pages 1 and 4
For the SPIEGEL bestseller list paperback, the rule is: everything that is not hardcover or paperback is a paperback (“Taschenbuch”). This also applies to larger booklets that do not have a flap. Books with a simple integral cover are generally only included on the paperback list.
3/ There are several Point of Sale systems used in the US. We use IBIDie. Others include Anthology, Basil, BookManager, iMRCHNT, WordStock. Some stores use non-book- specific POS, like Square or Shopify. Most do not have an integrated ecommerce solution. The American Booksellers Association (ABA) provides website templates, services, and tech support through their Indie Commerce arm. QABC’s website is through them; Krijn does most of the work updating and customizing the website, but each bookseller is responsible for adding their recommendations.
In Germany nearly every bookstore, that maintains a homepage uses so called “White Label Shops”, which are provided by the distributor. The distributors have different options here, varying from those who would spend a smaller budget to full service homepages. It differs from e-commerce-solutions, to webshops that would send the book to the customer directly (without sending it to the bookstore first). Even our “small budget” webshop offers a range of possibilities and also provides us with branded content we can use for marketing purposes.
4/ I may have misheard this, but it’s fascinating to think of not having a resale market that takes publishers and authors out of the profit loop! Some US bookstores are ONLY used books, which means they have more variable cost of goods (including selling some donated or “dumpster dive” free books) as well as more variable/ fluid pricing. But inventory/ POS systems are trickier for used books, someone on staff needs to be trained about buying used books, and there can be considerations of safety/ quality (i.e. mold, smoke, bed bugs YIKES) that are off-putting. Our store chooses to sell only new books; there is a small but well- respected used-only store at the bottom of the hill, Mercer Street Books. We don’t really see each other as competition. (And we also contribute books to the local Little Free Libraries and, when time allows, have even been known to help our customers find books in the Seattle Public Library system.)
In Germany there are (except maybe in really big cities) no second hand bookshops. But the online trading became quite famous, like www.medimops.de (which belongs to amazon now) or www.rebuy.de . Sometimes we order a book for our customer if we cannot find it elsewhere (or the book is really old for example) on those platforms in order to keep the customer. We also have a lot of customers, that are not familiar with online shopping, so we do that for them, for a little extra fee.
5/ Since Partners West, the Pacific Northwest regional distributor, closed in 2016, bookstores in our region have only had national distributor Ingram (plus publisher-direct ordering, which sometimes fulfills from the same warehouses owned by Ingram). We are lucky that there is a warehouse in Roseburg, OR (about a 5.5 hour drive away), so if we place orders by noon on weekdays, we can usually expect a delivery before the end of the next business day. But your speed of order fulfillment is very enviable!!!!
March 15, 2023: Tegan and Katja on a virtual sales meeting with Kurtis Lowe, independent sales rep with Imprint Group West
The “Büchersammelverkehr” (BSV) = “book truck service” is a transport service provided by the distributor/ assortments for the stationary book trade and also handles the delivery of publisher consignments to the bookstores. To increase transport efficiency, the book truck service of the assortments delivers not only the assortment shipments, but also the consignment goods of the company's own publishing delivery service and direct publisher shipments (so-called publisher's consignments). The returns to the publisher can also be organized and transported via the BSV. Due to the book price fixing, a price surcharge for higher procurement costs is not permitted. The transport fees for the bookstores are therefore assessed according to monthly weight volume.
6/ Frontlist buyers in the US have to do a lot of prediction about demand, reprints, and the ability to restock. Smaller stores with smaller seasonal budgets (like ours) can struggle because they don’t want to get stuck sold out of popular fresh releases (so they need to spend a lot on initial orders of known bestselling authors/ series) but we also want to be a place of discovery for debut authors or under-the-radar titles that aren’t going to get as much marketing push from their publishers. Space constraints are also significant in high-rent areas (like our neighborhood)-- we can’t always have space for all the books we know we’re going to sell. Having the ability to restock easily and quickly would reduce monetary stress and buyer stress. (*I forgot to ask: About what % of your orders are with the distributor vs. the publishers directly? I got the impression that almost everything comes through the distributor in Germany. Which makes me wonder about the role of sales reps! I’m sorry we didn’t get more opportunities to talk about this after our meeting with Kurtis!)
That discount depends, actually. If we meet the conditions, that we agreed to in the contract at the beginning of the year, we get a good discount from our distributor.
That contains also larger orders from schools, libraries etc., - shipping costs always excluded. Also the returned books do count (it’s a rate, that’s called "Remissionsquote") which is under 4% in our store for years. We have negotiated a really good discount with our main distributor ("Zeitfracht"), so we don't really have to order books from publishers directly (just specific wishes for customers). The difference in discount is maybe 2 to 3 %. Also if we meet the conditions in the contract we get another bonus at the end of the year. We have maybe just as little as 2 sales reps in the store - per year. As you can see, we don't really profit from the advantages, although they're of course very encouraged and dedicated to their work like Kurtis. And besides he was so much fun!
7/ Was it that customers don’t pay sales tax on books in Germany? Whereas book buyers pay normal local sales tax in the US? So, for example 0% in states like DE but 10.25% in Seattle. I am so fascinated by the idea of books being taxed as a necessity instead of a luxury, or of bookstores being seen as cultural institutions so they might be exempt from business taxes like churches or nonprofits are in the US.
The reduced sales tax on books in Germany is 7%, the normal sales tax e.g. for clothes is 19%. The tax is already included in the price that is printed on the book.
8/ In Germany the distributors maintain their own warehouses. Book truck services deliver the ordered books to the bookstores overnight. Book retailers are usually supplied within 24 hours by this distribution system. The German wholesalers Zeitfracht, Libri and Umbreit maintain complete, electronic warehouse catalogs of their deliverable books as a bibliographic aid for booksellers, with information on any delivery obstacles (report numbers). Umbreit, Könemann and the Swiss Book Center identify the titles they carry by listing them in the "Verzeichnis lieferbarer Bücher (VLB)" (=Directory of all books, that can be ordered). The VLB lists all books currently available in Germany - as reported by the publishers (for a fee). In addition, Umbreit and Könemann also sigell in the Zeitfracht catalog. With the help of sigelling, it is possible for booksellers to identify several supply channels from one bibliographic source.
Queen Anne Book Company celebrated its 10th anniversary at the beginning of March 2023
The great Staff-Picks-wall, I love it.
The shop-window and the lovely decoration
The shop front in the morning, very inviting and warm
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!
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.
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.
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.
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’!
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.
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