Independent bookshops, facing an existential threat due to the Covid-19 pandemic, have been given a powerful new tool to allow their loyal customers to support them by buying through Bookshop.org when they shop for books online.
With varying lockdown measures currently being enforced across the UK, including complete bookshop closures in Ireland and Wales, many independent bookshops are now facing a very uncertain sales period in the all-important run-up to Christmas after an already challenging year.
Bookshop was founded with the belief that independent bookshops are vital to our culture. As consumers are increasingly realising that where they spend their money matters, Bookshop.org offers an entirely new approach to online shopping, giving customers the power to support the local high street when they buy books online.
Bookshop.org offers an ethical online marketplace for socially conscious online shoppers that ensures independent bookshops receive the full profit margin (30 per cent of the cover price) from each sale they generate on the platform. Books are offered to consumers at a small discount and delivered within 2-3 days.
With over 130 British bookshops already signed up from all corners of the UK since it opened the site to them just over two weeks ago, the launch of Bookshop has been welcomed by independent booksellers and publishers, with industry members describing it as “a revolutionary moment in the history of bookselling in the UK” and “the establishment of a brilliant online partner for our thriving independent bookselling community”.
Bookshop.org first launched in the USA in January and has already raised over $7.5m for independent bookshops in the States. Bookshop.org has brought forward its UK launch in response to the significant impact of the pandemic on independent retailers, which has seen Amazon enjoying an even greater advantage over the high street. Now more than ever, UK Bookshops need support from online sales in the busy pre-Christmas shopping period.
Bringing a human touch to online shopping, the Bookshop.org browsing experience mirrors the joy of discovering a new book in a physical bookshop. Bookshop is able to do this because it is curated by real book experts – including booksellers, authors, publishers and influencers – as opposed to an algorithm, helping book lovers to discover books and authors beyond bestseller lists. Customers can explore each independent bookshop’s ‘store-front’ style page, browsing virtual tables of recommended books as they would instore.
“Having witnessed the transformative impact of Bookshop.org in the US, we couldn’t wait to welcome it and support it in the UK. We really believe this project could be a game-changer in the long run. Plus it’s amazing to be able to curate and share our lists with our readers and to see what curation means to so many brilliant fellow affiliates”. (Eva Ferri, Publisher of Europa Editions UK)
Bookshop.org offers independent bookshops another revenue stream, without any financial investment on the bookseller’s part, as all customer service and shipping will be handled by Bookshop and Gardners book distributors.
Bookshop.org customers will also be able to browse book recommendation lists created by authors, influencers, publishers, journalists, bloggers, book prizes and beyond, with anyone able to create a book recommendation page to share suggestions with their friends, fans or followers, while still supporting independent bookshops. Non-bookshop affiliates that create their own pages on Bookshop earn 10 per cent of the RRP for every book purchased through Bookshop, with independent bookshops likewise receiving 10 per cent.
Bookshop is a B Corporation, created with the mission to benefit the public good by contributing to the welfare of the independent literary community. It is written into Bookshop’s bylaws that it can never be sold to a major US retailer, including Amazon.