The Booksellers Association of the United Kingdom & Ireland Limited

Booksellers Association Announces Development of Sustainability Projects & Lone Working Group

The Booksellers Association (BA) has today launched a number of initiatives addressing two of their key priority areas: sustainability in bookselling and offering support to booksellers who work on their own.
Today marks the launch of the third phase of its Bookseller Sustainability Grants, with £40,000 available to booksellers for sustainable projects in their businesses. This is the final tranche of the £100,000 the BA has invested in this project over the last two years.
Building on the practical aspects of sustainability for booksellers, the BA has also appointed as its inaugural Sustainability Mentor, Amber Harrison, who runs FOLDE in Shaftesbury in Dorset and has a background in sustainability. Amber will be available to BA members as a Mentor as part of the BA Mentoring project, with a special remit for sustainability issues. The BA Mentoring project provides an expert bookseller Mentor free of charge and confidentially to booksellers who request advice and support.  
In a signal of the priority area represented by sustainability in bookselling, the BA has also named Debbie James, owner of Kibworth Books and Vice President of the BA, as its Sustainability Champion. Debbie will help lead on opportunities for booksellers to be part of the sustainability conversation in the industry and beyond, and will bring her customary rigour and energy to the Board level conversations on the issues within the BA.
The BA is also reconvening its Sustainable Bookselling Group (SBG), to act as a driving force in the search for ways in which booksellers can identify relevant issues in this space, conduct research and gather data, help each other solve problems, and source innovative ideas and initiatives. Debbie James and Amber Harrison are members of the SBG, which will meet regularly, mainly online, through the year. The first meeting will take place over the summer.
In a move also designed to represent and further issues key to booksellers, the BA is also creating a Lone Working Group to assist those booksellers who frequently work alone. It’s intended to be a self-help group, and will be primarily operate as a Facebook Group as a place for booksellers to communicate with others facing similar challenges. Booksellers are being encouraged to come to the group with questions, concerns, or just for a chat with like-minded booksellers. The BA has set up the group in response to the increasing number of booksellers who are operating without full time supporting staff, to share experiences and advice or to bounce ideas off someone in a similar situation.

In addition, the BA will host a monthly drop-in Zoom calls for the Lone Working Group, is creating materials on the BA Learning Skills Hub on the same subject, and will be communicating with members about dates for meetings in the coming weeks.
Meryl Halls, Managing Director at the Booksellers Association, said: “We are pleased to be launching a number of important initiatives for our members today. Sustainability has been a crucial point in our agenda for some time now, and in addition to the third batch of our Sustainability Grant, we’re delighted to appoint Amber and Debbie as Sustainability Mentor and Champion respectively. They’ll be able to offer additional advice and guidance to booksellers who want to take concrete steps towards making their shops more sustainable. In addition, with the Lone Working Group, we are keen to offer assistance to any bookseller who spends significant amounts of time working alone – whether they be owners, managers or staff. The BA exists to create a network where booksellers can come together to share experiences and tips, and we believe that a dedicated group for booksellers working solo will help build a stronger sense of community.”