Keep Books on the High Street

The BA continues to progress a pro-High Street campaign, which began in October 2011, which we are referring to as Keep Books on the High Street.

The House of Commons Business, Innovation and Skills Committee - UK Retail Sector
The Committee held a meeting in Gloucester on 12 September 2013 about the UK retail sector. The witnesses included Meryl Halls, Head of Membership Services at the BA, who covered the difficulties faced by bookshops, with reference to areas such as business rates, tax breaks and retail diversity. For full details of the uncorrected evidence here is a link to the parliamentary publication.

Local Authorities
The BA has written to Sir Merrick Cockell, Chairman of the Local Government Association and to the chief executive in over 400 local authorities in the UK to say that bookshops promote literacy and culture; build community character; contribute to the distinct flavour of a neighbourhood and help create local economies. The BA has asked for supportive policies under the control of local authorities in five areas to improve the fortunes of booksellers, these being:
1. To grant reduced business rates for cultural entities like bookshops.
2. To adopt parking strategies that actively encourage shoppers to come to our high streets.
3. To give booksellers the same benefits as charity shops, so that we no longer find ourselves competitively in a position of disadvantage.
4. To allow bookshops to tender for the provision of services to schools, colleges or other local government departments.
5. To bring empty shops back into use.
Copies of the letters can be downloaded here:
BA Letter to Sir Merrick Cockell, Chairman, LGA
BA Letter to Local Authorities (England & Wales)
BA Letter to Local Authorities (Scotland & Northern Ireland)
Responses from local authorities will be posted here:
Local Government Association
Local Authorities (England & Wales)
Local Authorities (Scotland & Northern Ireland)
It would be helpful if BA members could follow this up by writing to their own local authority stressing the need for action in these areas. 

English Heritage
The BA participated an English Heritage seminar - Where next for historic high streets and town centres? - in London in March 2013.

The resulting report is the product of research commissioned in partnership with the Historic Towns Forum, to better understand what has changed in recent years. It looks in detail at the current policy and retail context and what they might mean for historic town centres and high streets. The report considers emerging trends and their effect on historic high streets and town centres. It also identifies and analyses a series of case studies in different contexts, where local authorities and others have sought to renew and revive their high streets and town centres.
The Changing Face of the High Street: Decline and Revival was published in July 2013.

We Pay Our Taxes
BA POS focuses on the role high street booksellers play as full tax payers, and allows booksellers to get the point across to consumers.  Click here to download the PURSE design and here to download the MONEY design.  Click here for the Irish Euro version and the Irish Flag version. 


Find Your Local Bookshop
As part of the BA's Keep Books on the High Street campaign, we are encouraging all our friends and partners in the book trade to take a step in favour of contemporary high street bookshops.  We believe consumers deserve the choice of shopping with their local bookseller, whether on the high street or on their website.  So we urge you to introduce the idea of bookshops to your website visitors.  Here’s how…
We have created a Find Your Local Bookshop button, whic, used in conjunction with this link - - will take visitors to the BA bookshop search page, where they can search the over 3500 outlets in BA membership.  BA members range from single independents in market towns, to campus bookstores, through Christian specialists, to large national bookselling chains and supermarkets.    Consumers can search for All BA membersIndependents Only and/or Chain and Independent Booksellers – and can then decide whether to buy online or visit their community bookshop.

If you would like a copy of the image file, email or download it here Button

Independent Booksellers Week
IBW (28th June to 5th July 2014) uses the High Street Campaign message at its heart and allowed bookshops to continue promoting the campaign to consumers during a week of celebration around books, authors and events.  See for full details.

The Portas Review 
The House of Commons Communities and Local Government Committee has published the uncorrected transcript of its meeting on Monday 2 September 2013 on high streets and town centres. The witness was Mary Portas, Leader, Independent Review into the Future of the High Street.The BA attended the DCLG Select Committee Hearing and issued this press release.

Following the Committee's session, Ms Portas has since written to the Committee to clarify and correct points from the session as well as provide further information where requested.
Letter from Mary Portas

Background Material on The Portas Review
The Government published an update, The Future of High Streets Progress since the Portas Review in July 2013.
This report, which comes a year from the launch of the Portas Pilots, summarises progress on high streets and the next phase in the future of the high street. It outlines what the government and other organisations have done to support the high street, how the 27 Portas Pilots have been tackling their local challenges and sets out next steps for the future of the high street.

The BA's Submission to the Portas Review was made in October 2011.

The Portas Review, an independent review into the future of our high streets, was published in December 2011.
The Government Response was published in March 2012. 

Government response to Mary Portas High Street Review is welcomed but needs to go further says BA 

Press Coverage
BA slams government for business rate inaction -
Portas Review - BA wants more from Government -

Other recent communication focussed on BA members writing to MPs to inform a Commons debate on the health of the high street.  Here is the recent letter from Tim Godfray to all BA members:

Write to your MP

The debate transcript, mentioning at least one bookshop - Silverdell in Kirkham, Lancashire - is available here.

Tim Godfray has also written a letter to all Local Authorities in England and encouraged BA members to do the same:

Local Authority Letter

Below are press releases about the recent lobbying activity, and the letter to and reply from, Eric Pickles:
PR re HOC Debate
PR re local authority tax cut
Letter to Eric Pickles
Reply from Eric Pickles

Also some press coverage:

Campaign Overview & Previous Activity
More generally, the target groups for the campaign are:

      1. Consumers 
      2. Publishers 
      3. Press 
      4. Regional and National Government

In October, the BA released a press release calling for action - click here to view the press release.  Major press coverage included BBC Six O'clock News, national press and broadcast news and extensive trade press coverage.
Also in the autumn, we published the following articles in support of the campaign:

1. Yorkshire Post Article by Tim Godfray
2.  Christian Marketplace article

We also made statements regarding Charity Shops which garnered a fair bit of press coverage:

Charity Shops Statement

Downloadable Point-of-Sale has been produced for booksellers to support the consumer campaign and promote to their customers.  Booksellers who would like more posters or bookmarks can email

Below are the POS items available to download for booksellers:

Download Banner
Download Flyer
Download Bookmark

We also have a banner designed for our academic booksellers, referring to 'campus' rather than 'high street'.

Download Campus Banner

Publishers are being encouraged to review the financial model of the supply chain to promote a healthy high street
The BA is also actively lobbying Government specifically on the issues of town centre parking, business rates, and town planning.

Below are BA submissions to the OFT on relevant areas:

OFT Amazon/Book Depository Submission
OFT Competition in the Bookselling Sector Letter