International Update: BA, PA Outline Demands Ahead of U.K. General Election; Bookshops as a 'True Welcoming Space'

The Booksellers Association of the U.K. & Ireland and the Publishers Association have set out their priorities for the incoming government after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called a general election for July 4. The Bookseller reported that the arts, education and library funding, rates and wider taxation, as well as action on artificial intelligence and copyright "are likely to be high up the trade's agenda over the next six weeks. There will also be an impact on books publishing over the next six weeks, with publishers likely to scrutinize schedules closely."

BA managing director Meryl Halls said: "The BA is pleased to see a general election called and a move towards more stability and certainty for the business community, and in our relations with government and officials. We will be continuing to drive our call for fundamental business rates reform, an improved system of checks and balances on the digital giants, to allow SME and specialist growth and innovation, and are supportive of the work done by the PA on AI and the crucial importance of protecting copyright.

"In the retail space, we will be pressing all parties for an urgent look at retail crime, at valuing the contribution of retail to GDP and to the health of town centers, to ensure our high streets are able to thrive--and pressing home the outsized contribution made by bookshops of all sizes in this regard.

"We'll shortly be publishing a report into the social and cultural impact of bookshops, the better to illustrate the halo effect of bookshops on their communities. We'll also be encouraging our bookshop members to engage with their local parliamentary candidates, and helping booksellers to emphasize what a force for good bookshops are."

PA CEO Dan Conway commented, in part: "Our asks of the incoming government are clear: ensure that AI growth does not come at the expense of intellectual property and human creativity; proudly uphold the U.K.'s copyright framework as a driver of creativity, research and innovation; axe the final taxes on reading and learning; restore an open and fair market for education resources; and invest in libraries and literacy.

"We will work to show politicians on all sides the publishing industry's economic value to the UK, as well as its huge cultural and academic importance in inspiring the next generation of readers and learners. If we want a society that is literate, well-informed by trusted content and fiercely openly democratic, then the publishing sector needs to be a cornerstone of any government's future plans."


Emelie Porsack

As part of its "Bookshops as welcoming and inclusive spaces" campaign, RISE Bookselling is spotlighting booksellers "who are going above and beyond to make their shop a true welcoming space." Recently Emelie Porsack from the diversity taskforce at Börsenverein, the German book industry association, discussed how their bookshops make people feel at ease and welcome. Among the highlights:

"By working in a bookshop and recommending books, I can open new worlds and topics to someone. I can help other people to feel safe in a world where not everyone is respectful or understanding. Not everyone has the privilege of having a supporting family or friends. It can be hard to be on your own with questions, issues or thoughts. Books can play a big part in supporting someone, with information or sometimes just with distraction.  
"When I founded the 'taskforce diversity' as a part of young upcoming booksellers at Börsenverein, I wanted to raise some awareness about diversity as part of the bookish community. Some people asked, 'if' or 'why' we still need to talk about 'stuff like that.' But I like to answer that the key lies behind the small word 'how': How can we include everyone? How can we support a diverse community? How do we want to live together, besides our differences? Bookshops can take part in opinion-forming....

"In books someone can share ideas or thoughts and others can read them, maybe reflect on them. By visiting a bookshop someone can encounter so many different topics, people and ideas. In my opinion that's one of the most important traits for coming together and becoming part of an open-minded community."


Bookseller moment at the English Bookshop, Uppsala, Sweden: "Did you know that we have our own little reading nook just outside the shop? It's part of the Summer street, and is a lovely little haven. Buy a book and something good to drink (from the tea shop across the street or from one of the nearby cafes), have a seat and enjoy!" --Robert Gray

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