The Booksellers Association of the United Kingdom & Ireland Limited

The PA, BA and AAA join together for OpenBooks – a new initiative to reach the next generation of book industry talent


OpenBooks logo. The logo shows a book with a door open and the text says "OpenBooks - Your first chapter in the book industry". The logo is in orange/red ombré .

The Publishers Association, Booksellers Association and Association of Author’s Agents are proud to collaborate on the development of OpenBooks – a brand new series of free, accessible online events primarily targeting young talent from underrepresented backgrounds.

OpenBooks will launch to the trade with a conversation starting event on the subject of future talent at The Bookseller’s FutureBook Conference on 18 November 2022.

OpenBooks will launch to young people across the UK in February 2023, via a hub at: with a series of virtual live events and panels, plus short video content, all aimed at inspiring and connecting to their interests, creative skills, and passions.

Aimed primarily at 14 to 19-year-olds from underrepresented backgrounds, OpenBooks will showcase a range of book-related career options across publishing, bookselling, literary agenting and beyond. Drawing in a wide range of inspiring speakers, events will be curated to bring insights into the book industry, demystifying career options, identifying routes in, and positioning the books industry alongside other inspirational creative industries such as film, TV and music.

Events will be open to all and freely available to watch online at any time, reducing barriers to accessibility, including travel and cost. 

The initiative will be promoted via UK schools and education settings, community groups, youth organisations, bookshops, and other networks, as well as directly to young people online.

OpenBooks has been made possible by public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England, along with key support from individual companies from across the industry; enabling the events to reach as many as 100,000 young people.

OpenBooks is in consultation with industry partners and groups to ensure that a wide variety of needs and community priorities are taken into consideration. The initiative is intended to help remove barriers, increase transparency, and demystify an industry which is often perceived to be inaccessible — contributing to wider work to build a workforce that better reflects society, addressing issues of equality and inclusion. Further conversation will continue through the planning process, with the opportunity to provide comments, suggestions and feedback by contacting

Rebecca Smart, Co-CEO of DK and Council Member of the Publishers Association says:

“This is the first initiative of its kind that spans the whole book trade, and the PA is delighted to be working with the BA and AAA in order to reach out to the next generation of talent. We know the industry is still too opaque and we are ambitious about changing that via OpenBooks.”


Meryl Halls, MD of the Booksellers Association adds:

“The BA is delighted to be working with our industry partners on this ground-breaking event.  We know that bookselling is often the primary route in to the book industry, and bookselling can act as the training ground for booksellers, publishers and even authors.  We know that booksellers make the best publishers, and booksellers themselves are community-builders, curators and enthusiasts for books of all types; we’re passionately committed to diversifying bookselling, and to making bookshops welcoming beacons to all who might want to enter the book trade.  What better place to love books?  So we are foursquare behind this project and excited to see the next generation of booksellers coming through,”


“It’s been fascinating and exciting working as part of the steering committee for OpenBooks,” said Mary Kennedy, learning and development manager at Waterstones, “we are really looking forward to being part of the FutureBook panel, and the OpenBooks event next February, advocating with other booksellers the crucial work bookshops do to create lively, fun and interesting high streets and vibrant reading communities.  Working with publishers and agents in putting this together has really reinforced what a vividly creative industry we’re part of, and it’s great to think we can convey that excitement to young people who might not have thought of a career in books.”

Catherine Clarke, President of the AAA, says: “OpenBooks is a brilliant collaborative project which springs from the recognition across our vibrant book industry that a huge number of talented young people from all backgrounds don’t know about it or feel excluded from it. With enthusiastic and generous support from many book trade bodies, and the Arts Council, OpenBooks aims to change that, and the AAA is proud to be a founding member of this initiative.”

Follow our activity, and for updates on social media via #OpenBooks