The Booksellers Association of the United Kingdom & Ireland Limited

Unwin Charitable Trust Booksellers Mentoring Programme

We are pleased to announce that the Unwin Charitable Trust are launching an ongoing funded programme to assist small, independent booksellers by funding free, professional advice from a highly experienced former bookseller, with the full support of the BA.

Since its foundation in 1975 by the publisher Rayner Unwin CBE, the Unwin Charitable Trust has supported publishing and bookselling by sponsoring many different projects in the UK and abroad.

The mentoring programme is designed to provide an opportunity for participating booksellers to discuss, in complete confidence, business plans and to develop ideas without requiring time away from the shop.

Many of you will already know Sheila O’Reilly who is taking on the role of mentor for the Unwin Charitable Trust. Sheila has been in bookselling and publishing for over 30 years and has run Dulwich Books and The Beckenham Bookshop. Under her management, Dulwich Books was voted London Independent Bookshop of the Year in 2012, 2013 and 2014 and in May 2014 was voted the best independent bookshop in the UK and Ireland.

This wealth of experience has given Sheila a deep understanding of both customer needs and how to balance that with the commercial needs of a business. She has the analytical skills necessary to identify the best way to resolve an issue and the industry knowledge to advise on changes which will ensure best practice and continued financial success. Her in-depth knowledge of the book trade and her wide-ranging network ensure a clear understanding of the opportunities available to help bookshops succeed. Sheila remains very involved in the industry as a member of the BA Council and as a member of our Independent Booksellers Forum.
Whatever your queries or concerns, this is an opportunity to seek suggestions and receive clear personalised advice, free of charge and at a time and place that suits you, thanks to full funding by the Unwin Charitable Trust. If you are looking to develop your bookshop, stabilise your existing business or need some practical ideas to turn your business around, then this is a great opportunity to talk matters through in total confidence with an insightful and discreet mentor.

For those new to the business of bookselling, the Trust would like to offer you four visits from their mentor over the course of your first two years of trading, to help you through opening or to review your business plan once you have been trading for a while.

If you would like to know more, you can email visit the Unwin Charitable Trust’s website or contact the Programme’s administrator, Margaret Wilson Otherwise, complete the application form to arrange an initial phone call, followed by a visit from Sheila, who will afterwards prepare a bespoke report with recommendations for improving profitability and success.