This month is fully booked.
If you’re looking to inject a big dose of literature into your winter lockdown, new online platform Bookshop has the answer. More than 130 bookstores across the UK – including some of our London favourites, including Gay’s The Word, Libreria, and the London Review Bookshop – have signed up to the online store, which lets customers support local businesses from their homes and rival retail giants like Amazon.
Bookshop went live on November 2 in the UK, and has already raised more than £30,000 for local bookshops. First started in the US by entrepreneur Andy Hunter, Bookshop aims to support independent booksellers in the run up to Christmas and beyond, ensuring independent bookshops receive the full profit margin – 30% of the cover price – from each sale.
The website gathers titles which are available to buy from local and independent shops around the UK. The books are then sent by Bookshop’s shipping partner in three working days. Crucially, the bookshops don’t have to make any financial investment into Bookshop, and each one that joins has its own store front available on the website. Currently there are more than 130 signed up, with 200 more expected by the end of the year.
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 this week. Hunter, who launched the US site in January, told The Guardian it had been a “wild ride”.
The book entrepreneur started the online store with a team of four, and the small but mighty team were overwhelmed with demands during the coronavirus pandemic. Despite how hectic it was Hunter told The Guardian that it was extremely gratifying, because the whole time they were getting messages from stores saying, ‘Thank God you came along, you’ve paid our rent, you’ve paid our health insurance this year.’
“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,” said Hunter. Amen to that.
Check out Bookshop and hunt down your next gripping read here.