04.10.11 | Lisa Campbell - The Bookseller
Godfray’s remarks come after the BA found overall membership numbers had declined by 20% in the last six years, from 4,495 in June 2006 to 3,683 in June 2011, with independent bookshop membership falling even further by 26%, from 1,483 in June 2006 to 1,099 in June 2011.
In a statement, Godfray said: “At a time when literacy is an issue and libraries are under threat from government cuts, we need to build a coalition of publishers, government and consumers to provide opportunities for the passionate and creative entrepreneurs who run bookshops on our high streets to thrive.
“What is clear from surveying our members is the considerable influence local and national government and our competition authorities have on the high street retailer. There is a lot of talk about putting the high street first, but far more action is needed. Rate relief for businesses with a cultural and educational value would be welcome.”
He added the issue affected wider society, not just BA members, because maintaining bookshops high streets is vital to literacy, the future economic prosperity of UK plc and “the cultural health of our nation.” He said: “There is plenty that can be done but it needs to be done now if we are to maintain bookshops on our high streets and protect the significant impact they have on the wellbeing of local society the UK. We will be making representations in the next few months to the appropriate bodies, and are also providing our members with posters for shop windows.”
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