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Bookshop.org ecommerce platform is ‘saviour’ for The Book Warren in Willingham



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The Book Warren’s founder, Lindsay Warren, says on World Book Day (March 4) that Bookshop, the ethical ecommerce platform, has been its “saviour” during lockdown.

The Book Warren & Cafe won the Best Bookshop in Cambridgeshire award in 2019. Picture: Keith Heppell
The Book Warren & Cafe won the Best Bookshop in Cambridgeshire award in 2019. Picture: Keith Heppell

The award-winning new and used books retailer at Highgate in Willingham is one of the 410 independent bookshops to share in the £1m profit generated in just four months by Bookshop, the book buying site that enables socially conscious shoppers to financially support independent bookshops online.

At a time when the majority of the UK’s bookshops have been forced to close their physical stores due to lockdown restrictions, by choosing Bookshop.org book buyers have generated over £1m in profit for the independent bookshops using the platform.

The Book Warren joined Bookshop.org in November and regularly curates lists of books for different genres, age groups and forthcoming titles.

As of February 4, 2021, 82 per cent of sales on Bookshop were generated by titles selling four or less copies each, and 54 per cent from titles selling a single copy, demonstrating how the platform helps draw attention to books beyond bestseller lists and celebrates diversity within the publishing ecosystem.

Booksellers using the platform have reported the many ways in which Bookshop.org has been a financial lifeline in a particularly challenging time, with the additional income allowing many to avoid furloughing staff, pay out Christmas bonuses, strengthen their online presence to better compete online, and even open new stores.

Lindsay Warren, who founded The Book Warren in 2018, said: “During the continuing lockdown and while non-essential retailers such as bookshops, have been closed, Bookshop.org arrived at just the right time generating our business much needed income from sales commission as well as benefiting from the profit share.

Local author Mary Strickland at The Book Warren. Picture: Keith Heppell
Local author Mary Strickland at The Book Warren. Picture: Keith Heppell

“Without Bookshop.org we would have struggled to survive. With support from publishers, authors as well as independent booksellers, Bookshop.org has created an ethical online shop and a socially conscious way to support independent booksellers.

“Being part of Bookshop.org has enabled The Book Warren to reach a wider audience as well as continuing to engage with our local communities and we’re excited as to how we can develop our market presence going forward.”

Lindsay is not the only person to celebrate the power of buying books without the profits going to Amazon. A recent survey conducted by the Booksellers Association found that 80 per cent of booksellers had a “good” or “very good” experience of using Bookshop.org to date.

With over 6,000 affiliates – spanning publishers, authors, book bloggers and beyond – using the site to support bookshops, the early success of Bookshop.org has been welcomed by many publishers.

Miranda West, founder and publisher at Do Books, said: “Congratulations to Bookshop.org for reaching this milestone! It’s good news for them, for the independent bookshops they support, and the future of book retail. It couldn’t have come at a better time. Everyone, especially within our own community, readily embraced the idea of a more ethical platform. It’s already hard to imagine the publishing landscape without them.”

Claire Thorby of the Book Warren and Cafe currently the manager but is taking over the business now that they have reopened . Picture: Keith Heppell. (44857028)
Claire Thorby of the Book Warren and Cafe currently the manager but is taking over the business now that they have reopened . Picture: Keith Heppell. (44857028)

Bookshop.org offers an ethical online marketplace that ensures independent bookshops receive 30 per cent of the cover price from each sale they generate on the platform. Moreover, 10 per cent from any sale not attributed to a specific bookshop goes into the shared profit pool. In addition, a number of publishers – including Canongate, Atlantic, Murdoch, Profile, Serpent's Tail, Faber, Pushkin Press, Scribe, Nosy Crow, Simon & Schuster, Pan Macmillan, PRH, Hachette, Usborne and Europa Editions – have chosen to forego their 10 per cent affiliate commission and opted for it to go into the shared profit pool, to be split equally by independent bookshops using the site.

Nicole Vanderbilt, managing director at Bookshop UK, said: “Bookshop.org’s mission is to support the independent bookselling sector in the UK, and it is deeply gratifying to have reached this significant milestone in such a short time, and to hear the individual stories of success from bookshops using the site to sell books. Book buyers have made it clear that they believe in online shopping that gives back to local communities.”

The Book Warren Cafe is run by Claire Thorby, who will take on the running of the site from April 1 while Lindsay concentrates on the online platform. Check the website for details of talks and events by local authors.



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