Penguin Random House has launched a new initiative that will allow readers to discover and purchase new eBooks. The My Independent Bookshop project is currently UK based and will be coming to the US later this year.
The essence of the social platform is that it encourages readers to set up their own virtual bookshops to share their favourite reads as well as discover, recommend and review books online. The free site launches today in closed beta, kick-starting a month-long period where select authors and book fans will be invited to join the community and start creating their shops. Anyone with an interest can also register at www.myindependentbookshop.co.uk to be among the first to set up their virtual bookshop when ‘My Independent Bookshop’ goes live to the general public.
There is a strong social media element to the Bookshop with users being able to connect with Facebook, Twitter and Google+. This makes it easy for readers to give their friends, family and fans in their social networks a window into their shops. Through the website itself readers can also share and request personal recommendations from among the ‘My Independent Bookshop’ community if they choose.
The second part of this bookshop is to purchase eBooks through the system. All books in the virtual shops are available to buy online through hive.co.uk, the ecommerce arm of Gardners wholesalers, which is connected with hundreds of independent bookshops across the UK. As part of the registration process, ‘My Independent Bookshop’ users can choose their favourite real-world independent bookshop to connect with. Hive will then pass a commission from any purchase made through the website to their chosen shop.
Transworld author Terry Pratchett has praised the way the platform will support independent bookshops. He said: “Independent bookshops supported this jobbing genre author long before the geeks were let out of their wardrobes, being able to support these talented retail wizards through ‘My Independent Bookshop’ is a very, very good thing.”