Pullman Melbourne on the Park
15, 16 & 17 June 2024

SATURDAY 15th June 2024

1:00 – 2:00 - Registration and light refreshments

2:00 – 2:10 - Welcome – Tim Jarvis, BookPeople President

2:10  2:20 - Welcome to Country

2:20 2:30 - CEO Update – Robbie Egan

Robbie Egan speaks on key issues for Australian booksellers and the ongoing work of the Association.

2:30 – 3:00 - Opening keynote – Nardi Simpson

We are thrilled to welcome Nardi Simpson, a Yuwaalaraay storyteller and performer from the North West NSW freshwater plains. Her first novel, Song of the Crocodile won the 2021 ALS Gold Medal and was longlisted for the 2021 Stella Prize and Miles Franklin Awards. Her second novel, The Belburd will be published in October (Hachette).

Nardi will illuminate the value of connection and the negative impact of disconnection to the natural world, our built environment and each other. In sharing with us an understanding of community and the value of stories, Nardi’s opening keynote will set the stage for this year’s program and remind us of the crucial role booksellers play in providing access to writers and stories.

Sponsored by Hachette

3:00 – 3:40 - International bookseller keynote – Nic Bottomley

Nic Bottomley’s bookshop Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights is an independent bookshop built on the principles of extreme customer service and a very joyous and opinionated brand of bookselling. Mr B’s has twice been named Independent Bookshop of the Year for the UK and Ireland and was described as one of the ten best bookshops in the world by The Guardian. The bookshop has also won innovation awards for its Reading Spa experiences and its bespoke Reading Subscriptions.

Nic has been working closely with the Booksellers Association since opening Mr B’s, serving on working groups, speaking at conferences and helping efforts to petition legislators and competition authorities. He joined the BA’s Advisory Council in 2010 before joining its Board and becoming Vice-President in 2016 and then President for two years and is currently the Executive Chair.

We are truly delighted to finally welcome Nic to Australia to share his wealth of bookselling knowledge with us in person.

Sponsored by Magnum Book Services

3:40 – 4:20 - Nielsen Report – Bianca Whiteley

Always a must-see at conference, Bianca will present the annual Nielsen state of the industry report, analysing trends and current data around sales in the Australian market.

Sponsored by Nielsen Book Australia

4:20 – 5:00 - Bookseller Panel Session - The Voices of Experience

With well over a combined 100 years of bookselling experience we present a bookseller panel for the ages. Hear from Association life members David Gaunt AM, Mark Rubbo OAM, Fiona Stager OAM and Suzy Wilson AM as they take a look back at their bookselling careers, their involvement in the Association, and what they see as the future for bookselling and bookshops. 

5:00 – 6:30 - Saturday Cocktail Party - Special guest speaker Noni Hazlehurst

Join us at the Saturday Cocktail Party to hear the incomparable Noni Hazlehurst in conversation with her publisher Catherine Milne. Noni is funny, fierce, truthful, thoughtful and unafraid. Her memoir (HarperCollins Australia, October) will be something very special indeed.

Sponsored by HarperCollins Australia

Saturday evening is free time for delegates.

SUNDAY 16th June 2024

8:00 – 8:30 - Foyer - coffee and tea available

8:30 – 8:35 - Welcome back to day two

8:35 – 9:30 - Bookseller ideas exchange session

An interactive session featuring your best business ideas. Conference is a time to cross-pollinate, learn from and be inspired by your peers. In this session members will have the opportunity to present ideas that have become a success story for their business.

9:30 – 10:20  - Panel session – The genre too big to ignore – Romance

Driven by BookTok and a new generation of unabashed romance fans there is an undeniable change in the decades old and patriarchal public perception of the romance genre.

Award-winning multi-published novelist and Associate Professor in the field of Creative Writing at Flinders University Amy Matthews along with two innovative romance booksellers will give you a peek inside this genre’s fascinating world. The session aims to be a crash course in how to understand and maximise the full sales potential of this juggernaut in your bookshop.

10:20 – 10:40 - Morning Tea – Sponsored by Melbourne University Press

10:40 – 11:10 - Australia Reads update

Australia Reads is a unique cross-industry initiative that seeks to promote the benefits of books and reading. Head of Communications at the Australian Publishers Association, Anna Burkey, will provide an activity and research update.

11:10 – 11:50 - Indigenous Publishing and Indigenous Literacy Foundation origin session

The seed for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF) was planted at an Australian Booksellers Conference and from those early days and grand ambitions the ILF has gone on to provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities with the tools and resources they request to shape the direction of their children’s literacy future as well as have an impact on the growth and success of first nations authors and publishing. In this panel session we will track the beginnings, the importance of literacy skills and understanding in all communities and take a look to the future.

11:50 – 12:00 - ILF presentation

The ILF will share an overview of their upcoming activities.

12:00 – 1:00 - Lunch sponsored by the APA’s Independent Publishers Committee

12:00 – 3:00 - Trade Exhibition

3:00 – 3:40 - Author presentation - Gina Chick

Gina Chick became an overnight superstar when she won the inaugural season of Alone Australia. She shares wisdom and experiences from a lifetime of learning how to build instinctive resilience and a joyous connection with nature in her powerful memoir The Wilderness Inside.

Gina is a remarkable woman whose expertise in surviving in challenging environments is sure to resonate with booksellers. Combine this with her literary lineage - Gina is the granddaughter of Charmian Clift - this will no doubt be a conference highlight.

3:40 – 4:00 - Afternoon Tea – Sponsored by TitlePage

4:00 – 5:00 - Member Forum      

Robbie Egan and the BookPeople management committee will discuss and take questions on the Association’s initiatives and plans. Member-only session.

5:00 – 5:15 - Annual General Meeting

Member-only session

6:30 – 7:30 - Pre-dinner drinks - special guest speaker Helen Garner

Helen Garner has been described as an iconic figure whose vast body of work has held a significant place in the Australian cultural psyche for decades, earning a legion of dedicated fans at home and abroad. Her new book, The Season (Text Publishing), will be published in December 2024.

Helen will be in conversation with her publisher Michael Heyward for our centenary conference.

Sponsored by Text Publishing

7:30 – 10:30 - Gala dinner and awards night – Celebrating a centenary of supporting booksellers

Our guest MC is the effervescent Alice Zaslavsky, award-winning cookbook author, food guru and broadcaster.

The special guest dinner speaker is the multi-award-winning author Tim Winton.

Tim Winton has been declared a Living Treasure by the National Trust of Australia, so it seems only fitting that he should be the guest speaker at our 100th conference dinner. This will be the first time Tim will be speaking about his forthcoming title Juice (October, Penguin).

We will be treated to a performance by the celebrated, multi-award-winning Australian singer-songwriter and country musician, Kasey Chambers.

Sponsored by Penguin Random House

MONDAY 17th June 2024

8:00 - 8:30 - Foyer - coffee and tea available

8:30 - 8:50 - Sally Rippin, Australian Children's Laureate 2024 and 2025

Sally Rippin is Australia’s highest-selling female author and has written over 100 books for children and young adults, many of them award-winning. Sally knows not every child finds it easy to read. During her two years as Laureate, she will travel Australia talking about the many ways we can share stories, and support kids who might struggle to learn to read.

In partnership with the Australian Children’s Laureate Foundation

8:50 – 9:30 - Children’s bookselling session

Bookseller and teacher librarian Erin Wamala will join authors Judith Rossell and Sally Rippin to discuss and expand on Sally’s theme of ‘all kids can be readers’ and how booksellers can contribute to ‘growing’ adult readers.

Sponsored by Kids’ Reading Guide

9:30 – 10:40 - Industry Forum - Oh dear, whatever will you do?

We are delighted to announce another very special centenary conference event - the inaugural BookPeople Hypotheticals session hosted by Robert Skinner.

This year’s industry forum will take the form of 'what if scenarios' created by the host and directed to a panel of stakeholders including authors, booksellers and publishers. Themes covered will be interlinking and of relevance to booksellers and the broader book industry. The session will be provocative, fun and hypothetically factual; not to be missed.

Panellists to be announced

10:40 – 11:00 - Morning Tea - Sponsored by Walker Books

11:00 – 11:45 - Author panel – Australian crime fiction

In recent decades Australian crime fiction has been a local and international success story, from bestselling books to TV and film adaptions. Australian crime fiction authors and their readers have created a genre that crosses over mass market, through ‘cosy crime’ and consistently hits the literary mark.

Bookseller and crime author Aoife Clifford will chat to debut author Angie Martin (winner of the 2019 HQ/Flinders University Commercial Fiction Fellowship for First Nation Writers), award-winning author and screen writer Christian White and the indomitable and legendary Michael Robotham who is celebrating 20 years of crime fiction publishing. They will speak about their upcoming books and collectively reflect on where Australian crime writing has come from and where it is going.

11:45 – 12:30 - Panel session - Your bookshop, your identity, your story.

Readers can buy books anywhere (and often at a lower cost) so why do they buy them from you?

Each bookshop’s story, history, values, and specialties are what differentiates it from others. In this session panellists Laura Sedgwick, Nic Bottomley and Anna MacDonald will take a deep dive into finding and nurturing the story of each independent bookshops' unique identity. Starting with how to shift from a generic ‘About Us’ description about community and curation to one that reflects your store’s personality, makes loyal customers, entices new customers, and helps BookPeople pitch your store to the media, publishers, and others.

12:30 – 1:00 - Closing keynote – Robbie Arnott

Arguably saving the best for last award-winning author Robbie Arnott, whilst standing on the shoulders of giants such as Tim Winton, Richard Flanagan and Peter Carey, has not so quietly been forging his own path into Australia’s literary landscape. Robbie represents the next generation of talent and is the ideal author to speak about the future of Australian literature; a not to be missed closing keynote and perfect bookend to the centenary conference.

1:00 – 2:00 - Lunch - will follow Robbie Arnott’s closing keynote.

Sponsored by Pan MacMillan

Conference will close at 2 pm

Please note: The draft program is subject to change.