A founder of The Book Depository is to launch a global online bookselling site later this year called ibiidi.com.
Dr Emad Eldeen Elakehal, former chief technology officer at The Book Depository, is to launch ibiidi.com, a website selling titles in multiple languages and offering customers the option to pay for titles in a number of different currencies.
The website will at first sell through third party marketplaces, such as Amazon and Ebay, and launch direct to consumer later in the year. The company, registered in Slough, aims to be competitive on price and focus at first on Middle East and North African territories first, where other global sellers “have no or little presence”, Elakehal said.
He is currently talking to larger publishers and wholesalers to fulfill orders, but aims to get all publishers on board. “We are actually more interested in small presses and hard-to-find titles than those best sellers that most booksellers already have on offer," he told The Bookseller.
Elakehal co-founded The Book Depository (TBD) in 2004 and led its IT development and operations until November 2014. TBD was sold to Amazon in 2011.
He said: "Our first focus region is The Middle East and North Africa, where we work closely with publishers and suppliers in the region to bring their local selection of Arabic and English books to the global market.
“Readers who happen to live far from their homeland, find themselves either missing out a wide range of their native titles being not available through their local book stores or they may feel penalised by the excessive shipping charges they have to bear when ordering from retailers overseas.
"We will focus on developing an improved logistics network to give our customers, regardless where they reside, the ability to buy the books they desire at a reasonable price.”
Expanding on what the “improved logistics network” would involve, Elakehal said the company was “developing a smart adaptive network of entities that includes a number of self-managed computer systems, traditional warehouses and non-traditional storing and distribution points.”
“Our algorithms will always try to find the best location for the books to be stored, the most convenient suppliers to source the books from, and the cheapest and fastest route for the customer orders to be fulfilled through,” he said.
ibiidi already has established offices in Egypt and is in the process of establishing an office in the UAE.