Described as a “revolutionary moment in bookselling history”: a socially conscious alternative to the Amazon It allows readers to purchase books online with the support of local independent booksellers. After a hugely successful launch in the US, it has opened in the UK from today.
Library It was dreamed of by the writer and co-founder of Literary Hub, Andy Hunter. It allows freelance bookstores to create their own virtual storefront on the site, with stores getting a full profit margin – 30% of the cover price – from each sale. All customer services and shipping are handled by Bookshop and its reseller partners, with addresses displayed at a small discount and delivered within two to three days.
“It was a road trip,” said Hunter, who launched the site in the US in January. “Five weeks after what we thought would be a six-month period of improvement and improvement and making small changes, Covid-19 hit and suddenly we were doing huge work.”
It initially started with 250 bookstores, and now has more than 900 stores in the United States. “We went from selling 50,000 dollars (38,000 pounds sterling) books every February, to 50,000 dollars a day in March, then 150,000 dollars a day in April,” Hunter said. By June, Bookshop had sold $ 1 million books a day. The platform has now raised more than $ 7.5 million (£ 5.7 million) for independent bookstores across the United States.
“We were four employees plus me, working at home, getting up as soon as possible and going to bed as late as possible, trying to get everything working. It was a real ride,” Hunter said. “But it was very interesting because the whole time we were getting letters from the stores saying, ‘Thank God, you came with us, I paid the rent, I paid our health insurance this year. “If you’re going to have to work in crazy circumstances and with massive amounts of stress, it’s a good idea to do it in something you feel good about.”
Library is Company B.It was created with the aim of “benefiting the public good by contributing to the well-being of an independent literary community.” The rules state that it can never be sold to a large US retailer, including Amazon.
Hunter believes Bookshop’s rapid success is due to readers’ fondness for local booksellers. “Bookstores have been in trouble for a while because of the growth of Amazon, but this epidemic has really accelerated its growth. Amazon is getting stronger, while there are 100-year-old stores on hold to stay,” he said. “I think we were very successful because enough people were aware of this and wanted to rally around their beloved libraries, because they care about the world in which we are emerging from this epidemic.”
Hunter was planning to launch Bookshop in the UK in 2021 or 2022. But after seeing the platform’s success in the US, UK stores, publishers and authors asked him to increase the schedule. Bookshop.org takes off in the UK on Monday, with more than 130 UK libraries already registered and expected to have 200 by the end of the year. The company’s British arm will be managed by General Manager Nicole Vanderbilt, former international vice president of Etsy.
“If you don’t get there before Christmas, and you give people a way to support their stores and buy their gift books, it would be really disastrous for the stores, which is why we all struggled on board to get them,” Hunter said.
The libraries do not make any financial investment, as Bookshop handles all customer services and shipping, and in the UK, through distributor Gardners. The browsing experience aims to “reflect the pleasure of discovering a new book in a physical library,” the company says, with experts, not algorithms, who coordinate. Each freelancer joins their own “storefront” page, where customers can browse virtual tables of recommended books. For example, a user can see what the owner of The Shetland Times library (“Public Book Library is the far north in Britain, located more than 60 degrees north and closer to Norway than London”) personally recommends, in lists like “Cool and funny picture books” I “read to the library staff” and “books to help you move forward with your life.”
British booksellers and publishers have welcomed her arrival. “Being a freelance bookseller for many years is like David’s fight against Goliath so much that he gets a little upset when someone finally hands you a bazooka rather than throwing your slingshot,” said Andy Rossiter of Rossiter Books in Ross On. -Y.
The book library was described by Philip Gwynn Jones, publisher at Picador, as “a positive revolutionary moment in the history of UK bookselling, and in the evolution of the relationship between writers and readers”.
“It’s hard for us to compete with someone who has their own warehouse and sometimes sells books at a loss or with very small profit margins. We can’t do that. We can’t do that. We can’t do that. It’s good that Bookshop.org is going to compete with Amazon in a way that we can’t,” said Georgia Eckert, of Imagined Things Library in Harrogate. Alone or even collectively. ”You should have access, a big enough site, run by an appropriate team of people dedicated to it. We all run our own businesses and have no time to do so. “
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