SHARJAH. 1st May 2023. (WAM). The 2nd International Booksellers Conference, held for the second time, brought together industry experts from around the world to share their insights and tools for success.
Sharjah Book Authority has launched an important initiative, the International Booksellers Conference. It aims to support and promote the book industry by bringing together publishing houses and professionals from all over the world. The conference will take place from the 1st to the 2nd of May at Expo Centre Sharjah. It has proven to be a great success for all those who attended.
Panellists in a session entitled “Expanding Your Digital Footprint – How UK Booksellers use Online Platforms to Increase Book Sales” discussed the importance to create an online presence, and to expand digital footprints for book sales. The panelists also stressed the importance of creating a community of book enthusiasts and using social media platforms to effectively connect with customers and promote their books.
The first day of the International Booksellers Conference featured an informative session featuring Mark Thornton, Sara Dennis and Jo Coldwell.
Expanding the bookselling market and connecting with the world
Mark Thornton is the Bookshop Partnership manager for Bookshop.org. This e-commerce site was designed to assist physical bookshops. Thornton, who is responsible for promoting and supporting the over 550 independent bookstores that are on Bookshop.org, also runs online events in order to improve booksellers’ digital skills and sales.
Thornton explained that their platform helps the industry by giving 10% of sales to a’shared fund’. This money is then returned to independent bookshops. All sales are carbon-neutral, which meets our sustainable goals. The platform won many awards, including Best for the World for being a B corporation. The platform helped independent bookshops in the US earn more than $25 million and in the UK over PS2.8million.
The platform was designed to address the trend of long-term online purchases. 35% of all online purchases begin on Google. 25-35% of the sales are generated by emails and newsletters. 49% of the purchases are made through social media. Thornton advised businesses to enter the online world: “Be authentic, use original content, offer multiple purchasing options, and be versatile.”
Community as a powerful tool to connect with your passion
Jo Coldwell, the manager of Red Lion Books and the person responsible for the daily running of this award-winning bookstore, spoke about the importance of book groups and the promotion of reading in the community. She believes booksellers must adapt their practices constantly, but never forget why they entered the industry.
Coldwell elaborated on this by saying, “As bookshops, we have to make daily decisions about our business and practices to stay ahead of a world that is constantly changing.” Ironically, having a strong digital presence gives me the energy and resources to focus on my true passion: connecting directly with people and supplying them with quality reading materials.
Create a unique customer experience for your clients
Sara Dennis, owner of the independent bookshops Borzoi Bookshop and Mostly Books (both of which have won awards), stressed the importance of building strong customer relationships and creating a unique experience for customers. She said that “each bookshop has its own unique atmosphere and community.” She acknowledged that social media is important in reaching out to new customers, and showing the personality of a shop. She believes the best way to interact with customers is through physical interactions in the store.
Sara Dennis, in response to the pandemic and the importance of community support for the local bookstores. She noted that, despite the increase in online sales, customers still prefer to shop at local independent bookstores over cheaper online alternatives. She highlighted the online book club, which was a way to strengthen their community and provide another interface for their customers.