Bookshop.org launches in the UK to support independent bookshops

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An online bookselling platform first launched in the US to help support independent bookshops is now live in the UK, after bringing forward its launch date.

Bookshop.org is working with more than 130 UK independent bookshops who create their own virtual shopfront on the site and then receive 30% of the cover price from each sale. Bookshop.org and its UK distributor partner Gardners  – an international book wholesaler based in southern England – handle customer service and shipping, with titles sold at a small discount and delivered within two to three days. 

Bookshops that are partners receive a 30% commission on sales that they generate – whether through their Bookshop store fronts or through social media, email or on their own websites – earn 30% commission. And 10% of all other sales on the site goes to support all participating independent bookshops, split between them every six months. Partners can take out their income whenever they like, providing they have a balance of £20 or more. The site offers a 30-day returns policy, but  click and collect is not supported. 

In the US, the site started in January with 250 shops and now 900 have signed up and in the UK, the site aims to be at about 200 by Christmas. 

In the US, Bookshop.org is reported to be on track to pass $40m in sales this year, having only set up in January as the “indie alternative to Amazon”. 

“It’s been a wild ride,” founder Andy Hunter told The Guardian.. “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.”

It has launched here under the leadership of UK managing director Nicole Vanderbilt, formerly international vice-president of Etsy, in time for Christmas. The launch is particularly timely given the announcement of a second Covid-19 lockdown in England, starting on Thursday.

“If you don’t get there before Christmas, and give people a way to support their stores and buy their gift books, then it’s gonna be really catastrophic for shops, which is why we’ve scrambled all hands on deck to get it up,” said Hunter.

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Superdrug has more than 800 UK stores. Image: William Barton/Shutterstock
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