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CASE STUDY How famous indie bookstore Blackwell’s is using interactive windows and QR codes to sate book lovers

Blackwells Books: going virtual

A matter of weeks before actual browsing in bookshops can recommence, Blackwell’s book store in Oxford is using technology to create an interactive, contact-free window display to help book lovers discover new books without having to open the store’s doors.

Shoppers can scan the QR codes in the window display while on their daily walk to start reading the new titles with a single click. At the same time, readers based anywhere in the world can enjoy these first looks and thousands of other titles online, thanks to Jellybooks’ new unique cloud platform for book excerpts and audiobook snippets, DISCOVERY. 

DISCOVERY enables readers to ‘peek inside’ thousands of books on the websites of independent bookshops, including Blackwell’s, similar to how readers can ‘look inside’ on Amazon. The key difference with DISCOVERY is that readers can then purchase the book they have previewed directly from an individual bookseller and every penny will go to that retailer.

Blackwell’s booksellers have selected six new debut titles, in a nod to the new beginning that we are all looking forward to when lockdown restrictions start easing on 12 April and bookshops can reopen. 

Readers can preview all six titles on the Blackwell’s website here by clicking on the ‘Book preview’ tab’ under each cover image 

Rebecca MacAlister, Area Manager based at the world-famous Blackwell’s Bookshop in Oxford, says: “We’re thrilled to be working with Jellybooks to bring our customers DISCOVERY. One of the special joys of bookselling is seeing a customer pick up a book, open it and become immersed in it, before taking it to the till. We can’t get people back into the shop to recreate that moment yet, but this innovation means we can now offer a flavour of the content of a book through your screen, wherever you are in the world.”

Andrew Rhomberg, CEO of Jellybooks, adds: “Discovering new writers and books is one of life’s greatest pleasures, and creating DISCOVERY has been a major ambition of ours. We’re delighted that we can launch the platform with six fantastic debut titles that we know readers will be excited to find out more about, and we are so thankful to Blackwell’s and our launch partner publishers for helping make this dream come true during lockdown.”

Rhomberg continues: “By offering the functionality to browse books on a phone, tablet or computer and then purchase them directly from a local bookshop, we hope that DISCOVERY will not only inspire readers but help booksellers recover after such a difficult time. We encourage every reader to visit the Blackwell’s website today, browse all the great books on offer and use the opportunity for a peek inside to discover their next read.”

Blackwell’s and Jellybooks are partnering with the following publishers for the DISCOVERY launch: Barbican Press, Birlinn, Cambridge University Press, Comma Press, Granta, Hope Road Publishing, Impress Books, Pan Macmillan, Penguin Random House UK, Orphans Publishing and many other independent publishers.

Details of the six new debut titles are here 

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