The Big Green Bookshop is proposing to set up an alliance of independent bookshops in order to negotiate better discounts on books to compete with the bigger chains and retailers.
Following the controversy surrounding the deep discounting of Philip Pullman’s first The Book of Dust novel last year and Waterstones' exclusive deal to sell 5,000 signed special editions of the title, Simon Key, co-owner of the Big Green Bookshop in London’s Wood Green, has proposed to set up an independent bookshop alliance through which indie bookshops can work together to negotiate better discounts and exclusive offers with publishers.
Writing in a blog post on the shop’s website, Key said he "didn't blame" Waterstones for its exclusive deal on signed La Belle Sauvage stock. “It makes perfect sense if you have a large number of bookshops all being able to offer the same deal. That is one of the advantages of being a large book chain and having the facility to centrally buy titles such as this", he said.
However, he suggested that to win the same benefits, a group of independent bookshops should get together in a "semi official capacity" to approach publishers to pitch for exclusive deals and offers. “If this happened, I suspect that there'd be quite a few publishers and authors who'd take notice, and want to support this", he said.
Key told The Bookseller: "My idea is, say 150 indie bookshops got together in a consortium and put in an order for a big books, like Philip Pullman's La Belle Sauvage (David Fickling Books,Penguin Random House Children's), we could secure a higher discount and compete with the chains on big titles like that. We wouldn't want to do it for all books, what would be the point? Independent bookshops are independent for a reason, so we can stock what we like and it is a different experience from going to W H Smith or Amazon or Waterstones. We are all different from each other.
"But if we could do it for the big titles, such as the Philip Pullman Book of Dust trilogy, or the next Neil Gaiman for example, and secure a discount and signed copy like the chains, that would put us on an equal footing. I have spoken to a couple of publishers about it and they like the idea."
He added: "I'm not sure I could run it because I don't have time at the moment, but I wanted to put the idea out there and see if there was any take up."
Key’s initial tweet expressing the idea has been retweeted 474 times since it was posted yesterday (16th January), and has received support from both bookshops and publishers alike.
Little Toller Books tweeted: “It’s also a great idea for promoting small independent publishers imagine if 150 shops got behind one of our authors, not just the best sellers published by vast and wealthy publishing houses…”
So far, Key said 38 bookshops have expressed an interest in being part of the Indie Bookshop Alliance, nearing Key's target of 50 bookshops.
Interested bookshops should email ‘Yes’ to firstname.lastname@example.org.