Savvy business snapshot: Bookspeed
Bookspeed specialise in building the perfect range of books and gifts for retailers. Lewis Dawson is Commercial Director and is responsible for all buying and procurement operations, and overseeing the management of commercial activities across the business. He works closely with Bookspeed’s Sales Director, Fiona Stout, to expand the product portfolio enabling the company to forward into an exciting period of diversification and expansion.
1) Tell us a bit about Bookspeed
Bookspeed has been providing bespoke ranges of books for over three decades for a wide variety of retailers in the UK Gift and Heritage markets. Our customers range from stately homes to design led gift retailers. In recent years we have extended our range building service to include toys and gifts in with our book ranges.
2) What’s the gap in the market?
Buying books is hard. There are hundreds of publishers, producing thousands of books all year round. We use our expert knowledge of the book trade to create highly individual ranges that form a key part of our customers’ retail offer. As an independently owned business, without any allegiances to specific publishers or producers, we are the only genuinely impartial specialist wholesaler in the UK. This means our only incentive is to provide our customers with the best advice and suggestions to maximise their sales, and in turn ours.
3) What are your most popular collections at the moment and why?
There are two really strong collections at the moment in the Gift market, one is “Parody Humor” made popular by the phenomenally successful “Ladybird Books for Grown Ups” series. We sold over a quarter of a millions units of this series alone! This year we have more in the Ladybird series, but also parodies of the Famous Five books that we are expecting to do very well. Our other strong collection is, of course, Adult Colouring. This is a trend that has been popular for a couple of years but in 2015 it reached a crescendo. It is still a strong trend, but we are finding that consumers are looking for the more unusual or quirky colouring titles, rather than the big designer names like Joanna Basford and Millie Marotta. One of our most popular Adult colouring titles this year has been the “Passive Aggressive Colouring Book”
4) What are the benefits of selling books, toys and gifts together?
Our Account Managers, one of which every customer has dedicated to their account, all have a great eye for design and retail layout. Many have experience in retail themselves. These skills are used to build the ranges of books that we offer our customers, however there is no reason to limit the use of these skills only to ranges of books. Expanding our product portfolio allows our creative Account Managers to use their range building skills with more products, encouraging more cross merchandising and driving sales for our customers. We are careful to choose which partners we work with when bringing in new products on board, we want to make sure all new products we add into the business complement those we currently sell. We want suppliers to have a story to tell, not just a collection of products they want to flog!
5) And are there any drawbacks to this approach?
One thing we have found is that we are increasingly becoming a key supplier for many of our customers as their business with us grows. This means there is much greater scrutiny on our performance and the service that our customers receive. Ensuring that our high standards are maintained whilst growing quickly can be challenging, but we have an excellent team here and I’m confident we’ll continue to rise to the challenge.