Hive to launch "in the next couple of months"

Gardners is set to launch its website within weeks and has 400 retailers signed up, although some indies have expressed mixed views about the initiative.

Speaking at the Independent Publishers' Guild Conference, buying director Simon Morley said that the direct selling website, which will enable indies to be affiliated with the scheme, will launch "in the next couple of months" and that "London Book Fair will be quite a focus for us".

Details of the two renumeration models available for indies were revealed this week, after a period of consultation. For every Hive customer who chooses to have their online purchase delivered home, the independent with the nearest postcode will receive 5% renumeration on short discount lines, low margin offer books and 3% on e-books, DVDs and stationery in the form of a Gardners credit note. However, if customers choose to collect their Hive purchase, then the indie will receive more – 10-25% on trade books, 5-15% on short discount books (such as academic titles) and 5% on stationery and DVDs.

Morley added that pricing will be agency compliant.

Gardners has said that there has been overwhelming support for the scheme—Tim O’Kelly at One Tree Bookshop said: "It’s a great innovation—a real chance for independents to grab a piece of the internet action".

Independent retailers spoken to by The Bookseller have been more cautious. Judith Charlesworth, co-owner of Caxton Books in Frinton-on-Sea, Essex, said: "I have mixed feelings. While I can see what they are trying to do by following the online shopping habits of the nation. . . It might be misguided because I think our customers in the area who come in to support us will shop online thinking they are still keeping us open, while getting them even more into shopping online."

Tim West of The Big Green Bookshop in north London said: "We do like being completely independent, and try not to sign up to any other wholesaler-run independent groups because they remove independence by offering the same things to everybody."