On the 2nd November, the website Bookshop was launched in the UK, with the intention of financially supporting local, independent bookshops, particularly during these arduous times.
Since lockdown was implemented in March, Amazon’s profits have almost doubled to a sickening quarterly profit of $5.2 billion. It seems many of its customers find the ease of its website, the notoriously low book prices and the rapidity of Prime just too tempting to relinquish. It comes as no surprise that Amazon is the most dominant force in online bookselling, accounting for around 45% of online print sales, bludgeoning profits from its competitors, thus forcing many businesses to close since its establishment.
However, since 2018, after a 20-year decline, the number of Independent bookshops in the UK began to quietly flourish, despite the challenging landscape of bookselling. This slither of hope proves that people still desire the authenticity of independent retailers, and that Indie bookshops provide a personalised service that is unparalleled with mass corporations like Amazon.
The new online Startup Bookshop appears to be the perfect opponent to this multibillion-dollar company, incorporating the ease of Amazon, whilst also remaining ethically conscious. Rather than funnelling more money into the hands of billionaire businessman Jeff Bezos, customers can make efficient, speedy purchases, whilst simultaneously contributing to the welfare of the independent literary community.
“It’s not really about disrupting an industry,” CEO Andy Hunter says. “It’s about reinforcing an industry. Bookshop is about pulling back from the disruptive influence of Amazon.”
Bookshops that are partners of the company will receive a 30% commission on the sales they generate, with 10% of other sales being distributed evenly amongst the other participating bookshops in an overall earnings pool. So far, the website has collected a total of £100,000, proving that innovative Startups like Bookshop are vital tools in ensuring that Indie bookshops are supported during the next few weeks of their closure.
Their website states, “By design, we give away over 75% of our profit margin to stores, publications, authors and others who make up the thriving, inspirational culture around books!”
When making their purchase, customers are able to select a specific bookstore they’d like to support with the use of an efficient map, which locates the nearest bookshops in their area. Orders are then delivered promptly, within two to three days.
Independent bookshops are integral parts of our communities; they are the beating heart of every high street, inspiring a life-long love of reading. For me, they are a source of solace and inspiration, for there is nothing comparable to the experience of getting lost amongst its shelves, inhaling the scent of new books and discussing literature with the booksellers.
Let’s hope this instigates a new era of online bookselling, releasing independent bookshops from the tyrannical clutches of Amazon and allowing them to regain some dominance over the literary world. As Christmas edges closer, so does our yearning to make more ethical purchases during this critical period for retail. Whether or not Bookshop will succeed in posing any real threat against Amazon has yet to be proven. However, this website is the perfect way of paying homage to our local bookshops, so it is important that we give it all the support we can.
Words by Sylvia O’Hara
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