Online store Bert’s Books has launched a £30,000 fundraiser to open a physical shop in Swindon.
Founder Alex Call started the company last year after leaving W H Smith, where he worked at head of books marketing. Since then, he has been looking for a bricks and mortar site to base a physical iteration of the shop, and has now found a location in his hometown of Swindon; he aims to open the bookshop later this year.
Final agreement with the landlord is still pending, but the shop will be located inside renovated shipping containers, in line with Call's company's green principles. Bimingham-based designer Studio Able has been commissioned to design the interior.
Call, who has worked in bookselling since 2003, joked: "As long as nothing goes wrong, like Waterstones moving in in the next six months, which isn’t looking likely at the moment, we’ll be fine."
Although some funding is already in place, Call is now looking for help in covering the costs of legal fees, design, shop-fitting, equipment and rent, along with other overheads.
On 15th January, he launched an online fundraiser which has already made a dent in its £30,000 target. Rewards for donations include naming a corpse in a Peter James novel or characters in new books by Adele Parks, Juno Dawson and Gavin Extence. There are also signed books, book bundles and other prizes up for grabs.
Call said: "When you have worked in publishing and bookselling for quite a few years, you get to know a few people. I just sent them emails and asked for some help. I’m really pleased with the stuff they came back with."
The shop will have a dedicated children’s area, taking up around a third of the new space, and Call hopes to expand the business’ work in the community through initiatives such as its #BuildaBookshelf project, which offers customers the opportunity to buy books for schools.
Like the online operation, Call will also look to stock lots of diverse voices, though he said it would also stock James Patterson-style bestsellers too.
The crowdfunder runs for four weeks, and closes on 11th February.