Headley to launch online bookseller Bookman & Black

Headley to launch online bookseller Bookman & Black

Goldsboro Books owner David Headley is to launch an international online bookseller next spring, funded by “significant investment” from Headley and his business partner Lee Wilson.

Headley owns independent bookseller Goldsboro Books, located in London’s Cecil Court, and also runs his own literacy agency D H H. He is embarking on a joint venture to launch online bookseller Bookman & Black with web developer Wilson, m.d. of Project X Development.

Headley said the website would launch in April or May next year selling only print books in hardback, paperback or print on demand, and would aspire to replicate the experience of an independent bookshop online. He said: “At Bookman & Black we believe it’s time for a change in the field of online bookselling. We will be looking to work with publishers and authors to provide readers with an alternative online shopping experience, with all the joy and magic of browsing a physical bookshop, offering the knowledge and expertise of the professional bookseller.”

The name for the shop was inspired by Diane Setterfield’s novel Bellman & Black (Orion), which is about a gothic emporium. Several authors have already pledged support for the website by contributing book recommendations, with publishers and fellow booksellers in the industry set to follow suit. A Twitter story has already been lined up to promote the website on the day of its launch, written by an author whose identity will be revealed in due course.

Headley said he had so far had a “very positive reaction” from publishers he has discussed the venture with: “Bookman & Black believes strongly in the value of a book and will fully support publishers and authors with promotions, marketing campaigns and the development of exclusive content to ensure that readers become involved and engaged in our online community.

“Lee and I believe it is time for a different sort of online experience, one that replicates the feeling of an independent bookshop, and we are confident that by working closely with the industry, we can showcase interesting titles and at the same time delight readers who love physical books.”

Headley said that the site would operate “completely separately” from Goldsboro Books. He added that he was inspired to embark on the venture after toying with the idea of opening a chain of bookshops a few years ago. “I realised quite quickly the only way I could do that successfully was to hire really passionate booksellers—and that would cost a lot of money,” he told The Bookseller.

“But it stuck in my mind . . . I wanted to do something selling print books on a larger scale. Right now a lot of people are unhappy with their online shopping experience for books. They do not want to use Amazon. We will give offers and promotions like any other bookshop and we will pay a lot of attention to the browsing experience. Amazon does not have a good way of promoting backlist.”

Headley said he and Wilson were making a “significant” investment in the company, which they will co-own 50/50. Wilson created the new website for Goldsboro Books earlier this year, and is the partner of author Robyn Young.