The Booksellers Association of the United Kingdom & Ireland Limited

Booksellers Association Publishes Findings of Annual Membership Workforce Survey For 2023-24

The Booksellers Association (BA) has today published the findings of their annual Membership Workforce Survey, now in its second year.
The survey is part of the BA’s ongoing and long-term commitment to make bookselling, and the wider book, media and creative industries, more inclusive and representative of all demographics and communities.
The key findings of the Booksellers Association Membership Workforce Survey are:
  • 68% of respondents identified as female (vs 51% of the population*), down from 71% in 2022
  • 8% of respondents’ gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth (vs 1% of the population*), up from 7% in 2022
  • 8% of respondents identified as being from ethnic minority groups (excluding White minorities) (vs 18% of the population*), up from 7% in 2022
  • 28% of respondents identified as having a disability or long-term health condition (vs 18% of the population*)
  • 24% of respondents have a neurodiverse condition (vs 15% of the population [ACAS]), up from 23% in 2022
  • Almost a third (32%) are currently experiencing mental health problems (vs one in six in the population [Mind])
  • 64% of respondents had professional backgrounds (vs 37% of the population [Social Mobility Commission]), up from 59% in 2022
  • 13% of respondents attended an independent of fee-paying school (vs 7% of the population [Sutton Trust and Social Mobility Commission])
  • The majority of respondents agreed/strongly agreed that they feel included (85%), respected (80%), like they belong (83%) and can be their authentic selves (81%) at work.
  • A high proportion of respondents agreed/strongly agreed that their organisation values and is committed to diversity and inclusion (80%) and is making progress addressing diversity and inclusion (72%)
  • Over half (58%) of respondents agreed/strongly agreed that the culture in the bookselling industry is inclusive, up from 52% in 2022
Read the Workforce Survey

Meryl Halls, Managing Director at the Booksellers Association, said:
“Now in its second year, the BA’s Membership Workforce Survey is essential in our journey towards diversifying bookselling and attracting and representing booksellers from all demographics and communities. Once again run in partnership with EA Inclusion, this information will help us assess and approach issues around barriers of access and representation, so that careers in bookselling are open to people of the widest possible range of backgrounds as well as ensuring booksellers already in the industry can thrive. From this year’s statistics, we can continue to take pride that bookselling remains a de facto safe space for many demographics, from LGBTQ booksellers, to those with neurodiverse conditions or disabilities, long-term health or mental health conditions. It is positive to see that the overall bookselling industry culture is perceived by even more booksellers as an inclusive sector, but we must make better steps in improving the representation of booksellers from minority groups continue to make progress on our commitments to diversity and inclusion”.
The BA Workforce Survey was conducted by EA Inclusion. Ben Runcorn, (he/him), Operations Director at EA Inclusion, said: “It is great to see the BA running this Diversity Survey again, and we were really pleased to see participation, in both the number of individuals and bookshops taking part, increase significantly this year (+49% and +36% respectively). As a result, we have a more accurate understanding of the broad diversity of those working in bookselling and their perceptions around inclusion, belonging, respect, and being their authentic self at work.
The change in the number of respondents makes direct comparisons to the previous survey somewhat challenging, however key themes in representation remain clear. Some of these are really positive and show the sector as a welcoming and inclusive space in which to work (such as, the representation of those who identify as LGBT+, have disabilities or long-term health conditions, or are neurodivergent), whereas others show there are potential barriers for some groups of people (e.g. ethnic minority groups or those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds).
We know that books and stories have the power to change the way that people see the world and others within it, and it was really positive to see that almost half of respondents had read books which have changed their perspective on diversity and inclusion. We encourage bookshops of all sizes to take a proactive approach to addressing EDI (equity, diversity, and inclusion), not only in relation to staff, but for customers too.
I look forward to continuing our relationship with the BA, and working with them as they explore how best to support their members.”
Overall, 275 booksellers from 158 bookshops took part in the survey, an increase of 49% and 36% from 2022 respectively. The survey took place between October 2023 and early January 2024.
*All comparison population figures unless otherwise stated refer to the England & Wales 2021 census.