Money & Business

British Booksellers Prepare for a Super Thursday

By / Oct 8, 2014 (iStock/Thinkstock)

With 315 books hitting the shelves this week, making this Thursday the busiest day on Britain’s literary calendar, the Booksellers Association has started to leverage “Super Thursday” as a way to get readers in stores.

It took a few years for British publishers and booksellers to capitalize on a noteworthy trend—the fact that Thursdays in October tend to be popular times to sell books. But this year, they’re on board with a coordinated effort to promote the first official “Super Thursday” this week.

In 2008, industry analyst Philip Stone of The Bookseller spotted the trend of book releases on Thursdays in October. Now publishers and bookshops are looking to turn Super Thursday into an unofficial marketing holiday along the lines of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Record Store Day.

“It helps us fight back against the internet, creates a real buzz and awareness about books, and it feeds into our busiest time—Christmas,” said Sam Husain, CEO of the British bookstore chain Foyles.

Unlike the other similar retail holidays, however, Super Thursday came about organically—and this year, the Booksellers Association (BA) is starting to grab hold of a golden opportunity to drive people into independently owned stores.

“The huge number of … highly anticipated, new titles creates an awful lot of news and gets people into bookshops, which are the best places to discover other books,” BA President Tim Walker told The Guardian.

To help drive interest beyond the books themselves, the group is tying the campaign to an existing one—its “Books Are My Bag” initiative, meant to encourage sales of physical, rather than electronic, books. To hear it from BA CEO Tim Godfray, it sounds like the desire to get bookstores a place in the campaign led to the delay in latching onto the event.

“Super Thursday is a day that the media have consistently taken an interest in, but it’s never really benefited bookshops,” he told The Bookseller. “This year, it makes perfect sense to kick off the busiest book sale season of the year with Books Are My Bag on Super Thursday, so bookshops can add a meaningful message to the day—love books, love bookshops.”

Bibliophiles who make it into stores Thursday will find plenty of new things to read. Monty Python member John Cleese’s autobiography, So Anyway …, is perhaps the biggest individual draw, though fans of Terry Pratchett, whose Mrs Bradshaw’s Handbook is coming out Thursday, might disagree.

Grappling With Amazon

The move comes as online retailer Amazon is generating additional bad blood with the book industry worldwide—with much of it centered in Europe.

Last week, the European and International Booksellers Federation filed a complaint with the European Commission over potential antitrust concerns, citing Amazon’s heavy-handed approach to bargaining with publishers and authors about their main product.

“In the end, if you only have one big retailer on the market like Amazon, this retailer will impose its bargaining, its rebate, and its commercial conditions on the publishers. And if publishers have limited choice in retail channels, they will be squeezed by that giant retailer,” the federation’s director, Françoise Dubruille, told PCWorld.

In August, the U.S. Justice Department met with members of the Authors Guild, a U.S. advocacy group representing writers, expressing concern over the same issue, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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