Great British Bookshop to offer 'online alternative'

Great British Bookshop to offer 'online alternative'

A new book retail site, The Great British Bookshop, is being soft-launched in December, vowing to make use of a "silent but growing backlash" among customers against Amazon.

The Great British Bookshop will be run by Print on Demand Worldwide (PODW), using a mix of print-on-demand services and wholesale to supply books.

PODW said it was planning to offer a range to match other retail sites.

Kathy Allen, senior marketing executive at PODW, said: "It's really difficult to compete with Amazon, they are a huge force, but for publishers we want to be a viable alternative—it doesn't take a lot of resources to put books with us. With consumers, there is a silent but growing backlash [against Amazon] and we hope to utilise that where possible."

PODW is a digital book printer and e-book distribution company, but Allen said the expansion to consumer retail was a natural one. She said: "We wanted to work with publishers to supply them with something they need. It's obviously very challenging in retail at the moment, and a lot of publishers feel like they are held to ransom in terms of mandatory discounts and hoops they have to jump through. We thought, 'Why don't we do it ourselves?'"

She said that the site was originally conceived as a place to sell POD copies of books publishers made available, but the idea expanded to become a general retail site supported by wholesale. Allen said: "We didn't want people to come on and not find something, then never come back. Everything you can find elsewhere, you should be able to find here. We're working with a wholesaler so we'll have a catalogue of 230,000 book titles, big publishers as well as niche, academic and STM publishers."

Allen said the Great British Bookshop will also offer good terms for publishers, offering "relaxed" discounts, marketing options, and communication with publishers on data such as RRPs and margins. Allen said: "We work with a lot of small and medium-sized publishers—the IPG has been our natural customer base. We would love to have the big boys involved as well, but we know it will take time—smaller publishers are often able to make decisions quicker. But we think the site will offer them a lot of benefits."

Currently, around 10 members of staff are working on the site, with an online bookshop manager being recruited to run the site. It is set to be opened for some users in mid-December, before being opened up generally.

PODW is already considering expanded operations such as a Great American Bookshop or Great European Bookshop.