Do you fancy helping to keep independent bookshops alive through lockdown and beyond, while perhaps finding the perfect gift to give the bookworm in your life too?
It sounds like a win-win for everyone involved, and a new online platform could be just what you – and our small local bookshops – need as it launches this week.
Bookshop is the brainchild of Andy Hunter, a writer himself and also the co-founder of Literary Hub. It teams up with local independent bookshops around the country, giving them the chance to host a virtual shopfront on the site and sell their stock.
It’s expected to be a testing time for independent businesses as we await a second national lockdown, with many not making it through the first or resorting to crowdfunding, but Andy bringing his site to the UK should go at least some way to softening the blow.
‘If you don’t get there before Christmas, and give people a way to support their stores and buy their gift books, then it’s gonna be really catastrophic for shops, which is why we’ve scrambled all hands on deck to get it up,’ he explains.
Bookshop’s partners earn a 30% commission on sales they generate, while 10% of all other sales go into an earnings pool which is distributed equally between all independent bookshops every six months.
The site doesn’t make a profit from these affiliate sales – as well as the partner shop getting 30%, the publisher will receive about half of the sale price, and the remaining 20% is put towards operating costs, payment processing, and discounts.
They do still make a profit, but this is through non-affiliate sales only.
Bookshop take care of customer service and shipping – you can expect books to be delivered in two to three days.
The company has gone from strength to strength across the Atlantic, where they were selling $1m worth of books a day by June.
They’ve raised the equivalent of over £5.7m for independent bookshops too, so it’s hoped that Bookshop will be just as popular with book lovers in the UK and help independent bookshops to get through this turbulent period.
As Andy says: ‘Bookshops are essential to a healthy culture, and online sales are vital to safeguarding their future … Covid-19 has added further urgency to the need for bookshops to compete for online sales.’
With over 130 bookshops from up and down the country selling through the website, there’s plenty of choice if you’re looking for the ideal present – or simply want to treat yourself.
Andy Rossiter, of Ross-on-Wye’s Rossiter Books – one of the shops involved – says: ‘Being an independent bookseller has for so many years been such a David v Goliath battle that it feels slightly disconcerting when someone at last hands you a bazooka instead of you peppering away with your slingshot.’
This is a sentiment echoed by Georgia Eckert of Harrogate’s Imagined Things bookshop:
‘It’s hard for us to compete with someone that’s got its own warehouse and sells books sometimes at a loss, or at very small profit margins.
‘We just can’t do that. So it’s nice that Bookshop.org is going to rival Amazon in a way we couldn’t on our own or even collectively.’
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