The Booksellers Association of the United Kingdom & Ireland Limited

Booksellers Association Publishes Findings of Inaugural Workforce Survey

The Booksellers Association (BA) has today published the findings of its inaugural Workforce Survey as part of its ongoing long-term commitment to make bookselling, and the wider book, media and creative industries, more inclusive and representative.
The key findings of the Booksellers Association Workforce Survey are:
  • 71% of respondents identified as female (vs 51% of the population*)
  • 7% of respondents’ gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth (vs 1% of the population*)
  • 23% of respondents identified as LGB+ (lesbian, gay, bi, or preferred to self-describe their sexual orientation) (vs 3% of the population*)
  • 7% of respondents identified as being from ethnic minority groups (excluding White minorities) (vs 18% of the population*)
  • 29% of respondents identified as having a disability or long-term health condition (vs 18% of the population*)
  • 23% of respondents have a neurodiverse condition (vs 15% of the population [ACAS])
  • More than a third (35%) are currently experiencing mental health problems (vs one in six in the population [Mind])
  • 59% of respondents had professional backgrounds (vs 37% of the population [Social Mobility Commission])
  • 17% 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 (93%), respected (92%), and like they belong (94%) at work.
  • A high proportion of respondents agreed/ strongly agreed that their organisation values and is committed to diversity and inclusion (89%) and is making progress addressing diversity and inclusion (82%).
  • Just over half (52%) of respondents agreed/ strongly agreed that the culture in the bookselling industry is inclusive.
Meryl Halls, Managing Director at the Booksellers Association, said: “The BA’s inaugural Workforce Survey is a vital step in our wider commitment to making bookselling more inclusive and representative of the population. We are very proud of the fact that there  many areas in which booksellers over index compared with the national population – including LGTBQ, those with long term health conditions, and those will mental health challenges. It seems to us clear from these statistics that bookselling is a de facto safe space for those from a variety of demographics, and this should be a source of pride for our sector. However, in other areas, it is clear there is a long road ahead, particularly in the representation of booksellers from ethnic minority groups. We look forward to continuing to work closely with our existing cohort of booksellers, as well as our partners at the Publishers Association and Association of Authors Agents, among many others, to ensure a more inclusive future for the book world. The BA will be working with its Equality and Inclusion Action Group to formulate a practical action plan for booksellers, ranging from employment and staffing, through stock and sourcing, to community engagement.”
The BA Workforce Diversity Survey was conducted by EA Inclusion. Ben Runcorn, Operations Director at EA Inclusion, said: “Collectively, the bookselling and publishing industry has taken great strides to improve diversity, inclusion, and belonging over recent years, and this is filtering into all aspects of the sector. While there is still a long way to go, real, measurable progress is being made, and this starts with gathering accurate data.
“In conducting its first Workforce Diversity Survey, the BA has gathered hugely valuable insight into the current state of bookselling, not only in terms of the diversity representation of the workforce, but also in their perceptions of inclusion and belonging. While the results in many areas were positive, it is clear that there are some key challenges that booksellers face. The results from this survey will be critical to benchmark against when measuring future progress as the BA looks to further support its members on its mission to ensure a more inclusive future for the book world.”
Overall, 185 booksellers from 118 bookshops took part in the survey.
While the Workforce Survey was completed by independent bookseller members of the BA, the BA has been working closely with Waterstones to ensure that collaborating across the sector to obtain the best picture of bookselling diversity.Waterstones also conducted their own workforce survey in 2022 and have contributed to the introduction to the BA Report.
*All comparison population figures unless otherwise stated refer to the England & Wales 2021 census.

Read the Workforce Survey.