National Book Tokens readies 2m cards for launch

<p>Two million electronic gift cards are to be sent out by National Book Tokens after the launch date of 1st -February was announced last week.</p><p>National Book Tokens has been working with bookshops on the scheme&rsquo;s implementation for the past 18 months and it said 90% of indies are now set up. Booksellers will be able to use either their credit card machine or a designated website to carry out the transactions when putting money onto the plastic cards or &#8232;taking a payment. </p><p>However, some indies remain unconvinced. Sheila O&rsquo;Reilly, owner of Dulwich Books, south London, said: &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t understand the system, it seems incredibly bureaucratic to me, longwinded, laborious and you have to be connected to the internet. It seems ludicrous to me.&rdquo; O&rsquo;Reilly said she would continue to use the paper tokens as they are &ldquo;quick, efficient and easy to deal with&rdquo;.</p><p>Matthew Clarke, co-owner of The Torbay Bookshop, Devon, said: &ldquo;The annoying thing is, it is one of these corporate decisions and not at ground level. I think they misunderstand the number of extra sales we get because they are paper.&rdquo; </p><p>Clarke added: &ldquo;I&rsquo;m very unhappy about it&mdash;I cannot see the benefit, there is &#8232;also a great big concern that Amazon will accept it and then there will be &#8232;a meltdown.&rdquo;</p><p>In response to criticism that this move had been caused by the larger chains demanding a change, a spokesperson for National Book Tokens said it had been consumer lead. Supermarkets are also currently not participating. No details were given about the timetable for phasing out the paper tokens.</p><p>Other independents said they would be stocking self-produced vouchers for their own shop. Sheridan Swinson, owner of Aardvark Books, Brampton Bryan, Shropshire, said: &ldquo;We have our own gift cards with printed vouchers. Electronic items aren&rsquo;t always as special as printed ones are.&rdquo;<br />Some indies were more willing to accept the changes. </p><p>Nicki Thornton, co-owner of Mostly Books, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, said it was too early to say if the new system would be better. &ldquo;It will be like everything, there will be swings and roundabouts, some people will love it and some people will hate it,&rdquo; she said. </p>