Educational publishers have been accused of not providing enough support to help independent bookshops stay on the high street, as owners call for more discounts.
While some bookshops enjoy the same level of custom they are used to from local schools, others have noticed an increasing trend for establishments to buy online or straight from publishers because they can get a better discount. Independents highlighted Nelson Thornes and Pearson as targeting schools. The Booksellers Association recently launched a campaign calling for publishers and the government to help bookshops stay on the high street "to protect the well-being of society".
Matthew Clarke, owner of the Torbay Bookshop in Paignton, said: "A couple of years ago the person who looks after the Nelson Thornes accounts decided that the discount given to retailers would go up the more money they spent.
"Traditionally it is around 17% across educational publishers, but Nelson put it down to 12.5% and the discount goes up the more you order. There is no logic to that, because you won't get more orders if the discount goes down. It is disrespectful."
Les Conroy, owner of Guisborough Bookshop in North Yorkshire, said: "I had a £1,000 school order and rang the publisher, Pearson, to get an extra discount but instead of giving me one they said 'send the school straight to us and we'll give them a 20% discount.' Schools are under pressure too and are looking for the best price they can get."
Claire Johnstone, head of sales and marketing at Nelson Thornes, said: "We are different to other fiction and larger publishers because we are smaller and operate on a different scale of economy. However, as a group of publishers I think we should do all we can. I do not want to lose the indie market any more than the next person, but we are also a business operating the best we can and we are prepared to talk to indies to negotiate."
A Pearson spokesperson said the company deals directly with schools and works hard to satisfy them and booksellers. She said: "Pearson supports the important role that bookshops play and we will continue to do what we can through our discount policy and relationships with them to help them stay on the high street.
"Our discount structure takes into account several different factors and we believe it to be fair."