Week 31/20 – week ending 31 July

BA takes over Bertrams’ Booktime

The Booksellers Association (BA) has taken on publication of Booktime magazine, wholesaler Bertrams’ book magazine for consumers. The BA’s first edition of the magazine will be out in October.

Bertrams went into administration in June, with rival wholesaler Gardners acquiring its assets in July.  The BA had already taken over Bertrams’ bookselling system Bertline.

The BA is retaining the Booktime editorial and design team as freelances. It will distribute the magazine to more than 400 bookshops. Advertising rates for publishers will be unaltered.

Alan Staton, BA director of strategy & communications, said: “We’re delighted to be producing the next issue of Booktime, which has proved universally popular among book lovers and booksellers alike. At this pivotal time for bookshops in the UK, when they need more support than ever before, we hope that publishers will support independent bookshops by booking advertising in the autumn issue.”

Emma Milne-White, owner of the Hungerford Bookshop, said: “We are so pleased to hear that Booktime will continue. It’s another enjoyable way for our customers to discover new books. It certainly leads to orders and sales, and it is a real bonus to be able to offer something of this quality for free.”

Tamsin Rosewell, bookseller at Kenilworth Books, said: “Booktime magazine is absolutely the best industry magazine we had because we read it, and our customers read it too.”

Helen Stanton, manager at Forum Books, said: “We love all the book chat we can get and Booktime magazine does it best – super eclectic, interesting and enthusiastic book news and reviews – so SO very happy its coming back!”

Booktime has received endorsements from publishers too. Richard Green, field sales manager (UK) at Pan Macmillan, said: “Booktime is an invaluable tool for us to talk to indie bookshop customers about our books – it’s great that it includes extracts and author features too. We are thrilled that the BA have taken over the production of Booktime with the same excellent editorial team on board.”

Richard Hawton, UK regional sales director, Simon & Schuster, said: “Here at S&S, we’re very pleased to see the return of Booktime magazine! It’s proved to be an excellent vehicle for author interviews and features, offering insight into the hard work that goes into writing and creating the books we love so much. It’s especially heartening that independent booksellers will continue to have something special and insightful to offer readers upon their return to the high street. We wish everyone in editorial and production there the best of luck and very much look forward to working with them in the future.”

Publishers wishing to submit titles to Booktime should contact Ruth Hunter: ruthehunter1977@gmail.com.

‘New reality’ forces Waterstones redundancies

Waterstones has released a statement to BookBrunch this morning confirming that the process of making some head office posts redundant is underway, but no numbers have been released. In full the statement reads:

‘It is with great regret that Waterstones is to make a number of head office redundancies and is currently in consultation with those whose Piccadilly-based roles are affected. These are part of a number of measures undertaken to align the overheads of the business to the level of sales now being achieved.

‘Waterstones has reopened all of its shops, excepting a small number where the circumstances make this impractical. As for almost all high street retailers, sales are lower than before the pandemic, notably in our city-centre shops. Notwithstanding the strong online performance of Waterstones.com, it is necessary to reduce the cost base of the business to reflect the new reality of our overall trading.’

A string of household names on the high street have announced job cuts in recent days, including Boots, Selfridges and M&S as coronaphobic customers stay away from city centres. At the beginning of July it was reported that up to 150 roles were at risk at WH Smith head office.

McDonald’s introduces permanent Happy Readers scheme

McDonald’s has introduced a new permanent option with its Happy Meals: parents can now choose whether they want their child to receive a book or toy. The scheme is part of the chain’s aim to remove over 3000 metric tons of plastic from its business from 2021, which means all hard plastic toys will be gone by then.

A new study released by McDonald’s UK has shown that 67% of parents feel school plays the major role in children’s reading; 47% say that their children are reading less after the school closures during lockdown, and 55% say they don’t have access to as many books at school. 21% worry that their children’s reading will drop off further during the summer holidays, and 17% are having trouble getting their children to read for more than ten minutes twice a week. 29% rely on charity shops for books, and 26% say new books are too expensive. McDonald’s is also distributing 2500 books to local charities like Fareshare to combat this.

Through its Happy Readers scheme that replaces toys with books for a six week period each year, McDonald’s has given away more than 93 million books, making it the largest provider of books to children in the country. Two new books are now available: Scooby-Doo and the Haunted Castle and Scooby-Doo and the Werewolf.

Tom Fletcher, children’s author and McFly frontman, was announced last year as ambassador of McDonald’s Happy Readers. He said: “My son loves reading at school with his teachers and friends, which he has been missing over the last few months. With books being less accessible to some families during the pandemic, I’m sure many other children across the country have been missing reading at school and borrowing books from libraries. I think it’s amazing that a summer holiday treat to McDonald’s can also now mean a great new story to take home. Book or Toy is a very timely and important initiative, which will be beneficial to kids and families over the holidays and beyond, encouraging them to read new books at home together.”

Research has also shown that 78% of parents would like their children to read more, 94% feel it is important, and 23% said they can only read to their children once a week or less, with more than 61% saying that jugging work and homeschooling during lockdown has negatively impacted on storytime.

Michelle Graham-Clare, vice president of food and marketing at McDonald’s UK and Ireland, said: “We have been committed to getting books in children’s hands for nearly a decade, and are proud to have distributed more than 93 million books in the UK and Ireland in that time. The Book or Toy initiative is another example of providing our Happy Meal families with even greater choice – and what a choice to have! A brilliant story from some fantastic authors or a fun toy featuring some of their favourite film and TV characters. This programme not only allows us to distribute even more books, but also supports our sustainability journey, giving families the ability to opt out of plastic toys. We are always working on our Happy Meal and from 2021, we will no longer give away hard plastic toys. We’re testing new packaging solutions for books and toys and constantly reviewing the menu to offer even greater choice to families.”

Jonathan Douglas, chief executive of the National Literacy Trust, said: “Books have the power to enrich children’s lives – they fuel imaginations, help children learn new things and support positive mental wellbeing. Yet many children are missing out on these benefits at a time when they need them most because they don’t have a single book of their own. That’s why we’re so pleased to be supporting McDonald’s to bring the magic of stories into children’s homes this summer through their new book or toy initiative. When children enjoy reading and have their own books, they are more likely to succeed in school, work and life, so we must do everything we can to inspire children to fall in love with reading for a lifetime.”