Independent bookshops unite to launch online service to rival Amazon

More than 130 independent bookshops unite to launch online service to rival Amazon – and they’ve raised £19,000 in just one day

  • Bookshop.org is a US-base initiative coming to the UK this week for book lovers 
  • Offers access to the catalogue of 130 independent bookshops across country 
  • Aims to support local businesses and to rival online retail giant Amazon

More than 130 independent book sellers have joined forces in one online shop in order to support smaller businesses and rival retail giants like Amazon. 

Bookshop.org went live today in the UK and has already raised more than £19,000 for local bookshops. 

First started in the US by entrepreneur Andy Hunter, the bookstore will receive the full profit margin of 30 percent of the cover price, and Bookshop.org will handle all delivery and customer service care issues, Hunter told The Guardian. 

Currently there are more than 130 signed up, with 200 more expected by the end of the year.  

The website is in business with 900 independent bookstores in the US, and has raised £5.7 million for bookstores around the country, selling £774,722 worth of books in one day in June.  

Bookshop.org is an US-based website coming to the UK today which allows people to support the business of their local booksellers rather than buying from Amazon

The website gathers titles which are available to buy from local and independent shops around the UK. The books are then sent by bookshop.org’s shipping partner in three working days. 

The bookstores don’t have to make any financial investment into Bookshop.org, and each one that joins has its own store front available on the website. 

Experts are curating the list of recommended books for avid readers to choose from, in what is intended to recreate the feel of discovering a new read in an actual physical shop as the UK goes into a second lockdown.

The plan had been to launch the website in the UK in 2021 or 2022, but it proved so successful that the scheme was hurried along, and the UK version opened today.  

Book lovers in the UK welcomed the website with open arms. It has already raised more than £19,000 for UK bookshops

Hunter, who launched the site in January, said it had been a ‘wild ride.’ 

‘Five weeks into what we thought was going to be a six-month period of refining and improving and making small changes, Covid-19 hit and then suddenly we were doing massive business,’ he said. 

‘We went from selling $50,000 (£30,000) worth of books in all of February, to selling $50,000 a day in March, then $150,000 ($116,000) a day in April,’ he went on. 

The book entrepreneur explained he started the online store with a team of four, and that this small but mighty team were overwhelmed with demands during the coronavirus pandemic. 

The website features lists of recommended books curated by experts, as well as storefronts of the partnering shops 

Book lovers supported the initiative on Twitter, saying independent shops needed all the help they could get 

He said that however stressful the adventure had been, it was also extremely rewarding for him to see how his site had helped smaller businesses, who were sending him earnest thanks, claiming he had helped pay their rent of yearly health insurance. 

‘If you’re going to have to work in insane circumstances and with huge amounts of stress, it’s good to be doing it in something you feel good about,’ he said. 

Bookshop.org is a B corporation that has a certification of ‘social and environmental performance’ verification and can never be sold to a major retailer. 

The bookshop.org manifesto, which is available on their website. Hunter said he hoped to counter the popularity of online retailer Amazon 

Hunter said he believed that the success of his website lied in the fact that people loved their local bookshops and refused to see them sink while Amazon become more powerful. 

He added that people understood that their locals needed support and that the way they consumed during the pandemic would have an impact on the post-Covid world.   

Book lovers in the UK have welcomed the initiative with open arms and took to Twitter to share their satisfaction.  

‘Great idea & as both  an author & a buyer you have my full support,’ one said. 

‘Brilliant! Good luck and congrats,’ said another. 

‘Wishing you huge success – our wonderful Indie bookshops need all the support they can get BooksBooksBooks,’ said another. 

‘I’m so excited for your launch! You are so very welcome,’ one wrote.  

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