Booksellers’ Mentoring Programme

The impact of COVID-19 is placing extraordinary stress on people and is particularly worrying for small businesses. The Booksellers Association has created a regularly updated page of resources for booksellers with an enormous amount of timely, accurate and relevant advice.

Your bookshops are the soul of your community so we want to let you know we are here to help and continue to offer mentoring and advice to BA members by phone or video call. We have launched a new, quick-response mentoring service entitled “30-minute mentoring chats”.

If you are facing challenges and uncertainty in your bookselling business, you can email Margaret Wilson (mentoring@unwincharitabletrust.org.uk) and – as quickly as possible – we will arrange a 30-minute mentoring chat (via phone or video call / Zoom). The 30-minute chat, with an experienced bookshop mentor, will allow you to talk through challenges you have, and explore potential solutions on a one-to-one basis. It’s free, flexible, and there is no registration or forms to fill in.

We hope that you keep safe and well, and that you can find some solace in helping your customers stay informed, entertained and supported in these difficult circumstances.

Launched in September 2017, our Booksellers’ Mentoring Programme assists small, independent high-street bookshops by funding free professional advice from highly experienced booksellers. With the support and approval of the Booksellers Association, this initiative was introduced at the annual BA Conference held at Aston University in 2017 and is an ongoing project for which we accept applications throughout the year.

As many booksellers operate in relative isolation and have limited opportunities to discuss their business plans, we hope that this mentoring programme will provide an opportunity for you, the bookseller, to do just that. In complete confidence, you will be able to discuss plans and develop ideas for your business without requiring time away from your shop, or sending staff on costly courses.

Whether you are thinking of developing your bookshop, planning a major project, perhaps adding a café or even moving premises, the opportunity to seek suggestions and receive clear personalised advice is available to you free of charge and at a time and place that suits you. If you are looking to stabilise your existing business, are seeking merchandising strategies to help you boost sales and cash flow or need some practical ideas to turn your business around, then you can talk things through with one of our insightful and discreet mentors and seek their advice. An initial phone call will enable you to briefly explain your query and we will then arrange for our mentor to visit your bookshop. You will have plenty of time for discussion in total confidence and, after the visit, if you wish, our mentor will prepare a bespoke report with recommendations for improving profitability and success. 

For those new to the business of bookselling, we would like to offer you four visits over the course of your first two years of trading. Whether to help you through opening the bookshop of your dreams or reviewing your business plan once you have been open a while, our mentor can guide and advise.

You can complete the application form here on this website or on the Booksellers Association website to arrange a visit or phone call. If you have any queries, please contact Margaret Wilson at mentoring@unwincharitabletrust.org.uk.

We hope that this opportunity to discuss your bookshop will leave you enthused and inspired with plans and solutions that are specific to your business.