The Independent Bookshop Alliance is being relaunched, with bookseller Simon Key urging other booksellers to come together to decide the future aims of the organisation.
The idea was first proposed in January 2018 with Arts Council England c.e.o. Darren Henley and Big Issue founder Lord John Bird joining forces to launch the alliance with Big Green Bookshop co-owner Simon Key.
The plan was for indies to join forces in order to negotiate better discounts on books and exclusive offers with publishers to compete with the bigger chains and retailers and the group also spoke out on business rates.
With Big Green Bookshop closing down its physical premises on 31st January and Key launching an online bookshop, he is now looking at the alliance once again, starting off with contacting its 150 members to kickstart interest again.
Key told The Bookseller: “With me moving the shop online I’ve now got more time for other projects including the indie alliance. It’s about coming together and trying to represent everyone. We first started to try and give bookshops a better opportunity to compete with the big chain stores and now I’m getting in touch with people and trying to find out what they want to focus on.”
In a blog post, Key claimed the alliance struggled to "get anything concrete sorted" with publishers. “We hit a few stumbling blocks. The publishers we approached, whilst keen to support us, weren't quite on the same wavelength as us. And despite a number of meetings, phone calls and emails, we weren't able to get anything concrete sorted. This was frustrating. I was looking after the bookshop (trying to sell books and keep the shop going) at the same time as trying to coordinate this huge project. Eventually, I had to put the Independent Bookshop Alliance on the back burner and concentrate on the bookshop," said Key.
He added: “So, fast forward to now. The Big Green Bookshop is closing its doors on January 31st, and I will be taking it online. And in a bizarre way, not having a bricks and mortar independent bookshop, will allow me time to devote The Independent Bookshop Alliance!
“So, today I sent and email to all the bookshops who'd been involved last year to tell them that The Independent Bookshop Alliance is back! My fear is that the email has gone straight into everybody's junk mail, as I haven't sent anything for a while, but hopefully there's still some interest. If you are an indie bookshop and are interested in hearing more about this, simply send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, with the word 'YES' and I’ll add you to the mailing list.”