This summer, Borders, Books Etc, WH Smith, WH Smith Travel, Waterstone’s and two independent bookshops – Foyles in London and BondsBooks of Birmingham – will team up with decibel, Arts Council England’s diversity initiative, to target black and minority ethnic (BME) customers for the very first time.
Books for All will address issues raised by research published by The Bookseller in May 2006, which revealed that the book industry lacks confidence in marketing to Britain’s black and minority ethnic population. As a result of this “fear factor”, the industry is failing to capitalise on a market worth an estimated £32bn.
The Books for All initiative will see over 70 bookshops focusing on this crucial audience with in-store author events, window displays, point-of-sale material and prominent displays in-store. This unique pilot initiative will take place in London and Birmingham, and will be evaluated in a supplement to be published in The Bookseller in September 2007, with a view to providing guidelines for retailers and publishers in reaching this market in the future.
Each of the retailers has taken ownership of the promotion in its own individual style, with guidance from decibel. The promotion will include fiction, general non-fiction and poetry; books for both adults and children, and both new and major backlist titles. A series of high-profile talks and signings will take place in stores throughout London and Birmingham, with Mike Gayle, Daljit Nagra, Moazzam Begg and Constance Briscoe already secured to appear in Books for All events.
Many of the books will be by BME authors, but other authors who appeal to a BME audience will be included. A selection of well-loved big-hitters will feature in the promotion (White Teeth by Zadie Smith; Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie), alongside some newer voices (Wish You Were Here by Mike Gayle; Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; Londonstani by Gautam Malkani).
Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London, says: “Our bookshops really should reflect the rich diversity of our population, and I am delighted that Books for All is taking this important first step to make this happen, both here in London and in Birmingham.
It’s a great initiative: for Londoners – and for the entire country. Here’s to making Books for All a great success.”
Samenua Sesher, Director of decibel, comments:
“The impressive range of titles by Black and minority ethnic authors in this promotion reminds us of how much talent there is. Books for All is a great way of showing culturally diverse book buyers how important they are.”
Books for All’s aim is to boost sales in the short-term, and to open up a new and expanding market in the long-term. The promotion will also raise confidence in how to market titles by BME writers.