Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

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ABA: Online conference commences, Love Your Bookshop Day on 3 October

The first of the Australian Booksellers Association’s (ABA) 2020 online conference events took place on Monday, 6 July, with ABA CEO Robbie Egan in conversation with Meryl Halls and Nic Bottomley from the UK’s Booksellers Association (BA). This year’s ABA conference was postponed in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The conversation included a discussion about how the UK industry has been faring during the pandemic. Bottomley, who had been programmed to deliver the opening keynote at this year’s ABA conference, spoke about his experience as owner of independent bookshop Mr B’s Emporium in Bath and described the ways in which his ‘high service’ business had to pivot to online, including emphasising its subscription service and creating an online book recommendation questionnaire.

Bottomley also said he took advantage of the UK government’s furlough scheme, which covered around half his staff, while the rest worked from home. Halls, who is president of the BA, discussed the measures the association took to support booksellers, including purchasing Bertrams’ stock control system Bertline after the collapse of the wholesaler in June, negotiating extended credit terms with publishers and contributing to a hardship fund for booksellers.

The panel also discussed the future of bookselling in a post-Covid world, the ‘hybridisation’ of bookshops as they become both online retailers and real-life places of connection, and working with publishers to monetise digital events, rather than using such events solely as a means of maintaining contact with customers.

Online conference off to a ‘flawless’ start

The ABA confirmed to Books+Publishing that registration numbers for this week were 118 with about 50% tuning in to live sessions, and that some stores watched together. It also noted that it has had many enquiries to watch the content afterwards. Registrations for next week are ‘well over 50 for each session and growing’.

‘Tonight’s session worked flawlessly and was riveting,’ said Francine Hancox from Escape Hatch Books. Beaufort Street Books owner Jane Seaton said, ‘I always get something back from attending [the] conference and even though it’s a virtual one, yet again I took a number of notes—new ideas as well as support for current thoughts and directions.’

Throughout the coming two weeks the ABA will post videos of live and pre-recorded conference sessions on its website, which can be accessed here.

Love Your Bookshop Day to be held Saturday, 3 October

The ABA has announced this year’s Love Your Bookshop Day will be held on Saturday, 3 October.

In a statement the ABA said that while this year’s celebration ‘may look a little different’ to previous years, ‘there is plenty to celebrate and maybe even more so—we are still here and we feel loved!’

‘The resounding message we received from bookshops around Australia over the last few months is the overwhelming love and support you received from your communities. This year Love Your Bookshop Day will be an opportunity to say thank you to your customers, book lovers and book buyers.’

‘Hopefully, many of you will be able to celebrate in-store … but if not, we will have plenty of ways to support and amplify your message of love on social media and in the media.’

The ABA encourages member stores to check their details are up to date on the Love Your Bookshop website.


Category: Local news