Axminster’s Archway Bookshop is in the front line of a revolutionary new initiative that aims to win back the independent British bookselling industry from Amazon’s dominance.
The British launch of Bookshop.org marks a fight back by independent booksellers in an industry that has been amongst the worst affected by the rise of Amazon’s online business. There are to date 130 bookshops on board the British platform of a venture that has been a runaway success in the US where it has already raised £7.5m for local bookstores. The UK launch has been brought forward to ensure that bookshops can win back business in towns where pre-Christmas trade looks likely to be depressed by coronavirus.
Simon Holmes has been the owner of the Archway Bookshop for nearly two years, occupying premises in Church Street, Axminster that have been the town’s bookshop for 54 years. “I see the launch of Bookshop.org as offering shops like ours real hope of long-term survival,” he says. “Bookshops are an important ingredient of a traditional British high street – at last we have a powerful new tool that allows our customers to shop online while backing their own town.
From today, Archway Bookshop has its own ‘storefront’ at https://uk.bookshop.org/shop/Archwaybookshop where customers can source from a massive stock of around 500,000 books at any time. Books ordered through the Archway Bookshop ‘storefront’ are posted direct to customers, with the 30% profit on the sale coming back to the shop. Ten per cent of all other sales on Bookshop.org goes to support participating independent bookshops through an evenly divided earnings pool.
Bookshop.org UK Managing Director Nicole Vanderbilt believes that local bookshops are essential to a healthy culture. She says: “At a time when Amazon has enjoyed even greater advantage over high street competitors as a result of the pandemic, we are offering a socially conscious alternative to customers wishing to shop online wile supporting their own bookshops.”
There have been repeated warnings that Amazon is on track to destroy Britain’s high streets. Sir John Timpson , boss of the Timpson chain, has accused the US giant of using ‘predatory trading’ and tax advantages to knock its competitors out of business. “It’s taken them 24 years to get to this point,” he said in an interview with the Daily Mirror. “In another 24 to 25 years you will not be able to trade with anyone else.”
Says Archway Bookshop’s Simon Holmes: “It’s time that independent shops like ours fought back because if we don’t then we don’t have a future. I have high hopes that Bookshop.org will prove to be a game changer in giving our customers an opportunity to buy just about any book online while helping to keep bricks and mortar bookshops like ours on the high street.
“It will also be of great benefit to those of our customers who prefer to do their shopping from home while coronavirus remains in evidence.”
The new online storefront will operate alongside Archway Bookshop’s existing website www.archwaybookshop.co.ukwhere customers can browse the shop’s stock and order for collection in store.