Retail site Bookshop announces UK board

Retail site Bookshop announces UK board

Bookshop.org, a retail site billed as a way for indies to counter Amazon’s online dominance, has today revealed the members of its UK board. The steps come as the organisation urges support for independent retail, with Amazon holding its discount deals Prime Day today (13th October).

The board will include the website's founder and c.e.o Andy Hunter (pictured), m.d Nicole Vanderbilt, Meryl Halls, m.d of the Booksellers Association, Sharmaine Lovegrove, founder and publisher at Dialogue Books, and Fleur Sinclair, owner at Sevenoaks Bookshop. Led by Vanderbilt, the UK team also includes Foyles’ former head of buying, Jasper Sutcliffe, who is appointed publisher and affiliate manager of the company, and former bookseller and previous owner of Mostly Books, Mark Thornton, as bookshop partnership manager.

With just under a month to go until Bookshop.org launches to consumers in the UK in the first week of November, the board will drive forward the launch strategy and work to ensure it "stays true to its core values of providing consumers with a socially conscious way to shop, while promoting diversity within bestseller lists by offering book discoverability from beyond an algorithm".

Commenting on the announcement, Vanderbilt said: “We have built a fantastic UK team at Bookshop, and we’re delighted to have recruited such a strong board as we approach the UK launch. Each board member’s unique expertise, and their breadth and depth of experience, will be vital in building Bookshop’s foundations ahead of our launch in the UK.”

Bookshop.org involves indies creating their own online shop profile for the site, sharing recommended book lists for customers to browse. Stores will earn 30% of the cover price on any sale that comes through their links, book lists or shop page. In the UK, all packaging and distribution will be managed by Gardners, with books delivered direct to customers, while Bookshop.org takes care of customer service.

Lovegrove said: "Independent bookshops are at the heart of the communities they serve and I am excited that they now have the opportunity to be better supported as Bookshop, with its innovative and inclusive approach, is arriving in the UK. I am delighted to be joining the Bookshop board and will to use my two decades of knowledge and experience of the industry to support the platform’s ambitious endeavours.”

Bookshop.org will also run an affiliate scheme, similar to Amazon's. Currently, the US retail giant pays media sites and other platforms for linking through to its website in their books coverage. Bookshop.org will also pay its affiliates 10%. An additional 10% from regular sales also goes into a payment pool distributed every six months to independent bookshops that have opted in, regardless of whether they use Bookshop.org as a selling platform.

Halls said: "We've been following the progress of Bookshop.org in the US throughout this year with great interest, and Bookshop.org is entering the UK market at a critical juncture for independent bookshops, with the need for a hybrid bookselling model – online and physical – ever-more important.  I’m delighted to be part of that process, advocating for the indie members of the BA at this key moment, and supporting the team of such a new and innovative company as it develops its mission in support of independent bookshops in the UK.”