This new online bookshop is helping independent businesses to take on Amazon

A new online bookshop has launched today in the UK, looking to take on Amazon, and support local independent bookstores in the process.

Bookshop.org has been described as a “revolutionary moment in the history of bookselling” as more than 120 bookshops have signed up to the initiative in the first two weeks.

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How does it work?

The website allows each individual bookshop to create a virtual store, and curate personalised book tables to emulate the experience and feel of a bricks and mortar bookshop.

Retailers are not charged to host their stores and will receive the full profit margin from each sale, with customer service and shipping handled by Bookshop.org and its partners.

Andy Rossiter of Rossiter Books in Ross-on-Wye, said, “Being an independent bookseller has for so many years been such a David v Goliath battle that it feels slightly disconcerting when someone at last hands you a bazooka instead of you peppering away with your slingshot.”

When does it launch?

The site is now live at bookshop.org.

While the site was originally slated to launch in the UK in 2021 or even 2022, its plans were moved forward, partly to provide a lifeline for UK retailers in the run up to Christmas - an important time which will now be highly disrupted due to the pandemic.

Speaking to the Guardian, Andy Hunter, founder of Bookshop.org, said, “If you don’t get there before Christmas, and give people a way to support their stores and but 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.”

Many experts say that Amazon’s dominance in the book-selling market has come at the cost of smaller companies and physical bookshops. Bookshop.Org has been set up to combat that trend.

The site has already launched, with great success in the US, where now more than 900 stores have signed up, bringing in over $7.5 million (around £5.7 million) so far.

The company has been created in such a way that it can never be sold to a major US retailer, including Amazon, which has previously bought out emergent competitors.