My Independent Bookshop is a new initiative in the UK that allows any reader to set up their shop with twelve books at a time on their shelves—changing the display as often as they choose by season, genre or simply their mood. The owners of the shelf can earn a 8% commission from their favorite indie bookstore. Today the service gets out of beta and over 400 bookshops are opening in the UK.
The essence of My Independent Bookshop is to allow readers to buy the titles they see on My Independent Bookshop profiles through Hive, the e-commerce arm of Gardners wholesalers, which is connected to 350 independent bookshops in the UK. Users can choose their favourite real-world independent bookshop to connect with when they register and bookshops will receive a minimum of 5% commission on book orders and 8% on e-books orders. Penguin and Random House were the inciting force behind this initiative which is a way they can compete with the Amazon Affiliate program.
The ‘bookshops’ opening today, following a month-long invite-only beta period, include several high-profile authors and book lovers from Irvine Welsh to Simon Mayo to Carys Bray, many of the UK’s independent bookshops from South London stalwart Dulwich Books to the UK’s smallest island bookshop, Hayling Island Books, and hundreds of specially selected VIP readers.
Author Terry Pratchett, who has connected his online bookshop, NARRATIVIA, to the tiny Hayling Island Bookshop in Hampshire, 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. The personal aspect of sharing recommendations in your own online shop gives readers the ability to discover surprising new worlds in an interesting way. Go on, have a virtual rummage around – you’ll never know what you might find.”
This is a very interesting value proposition. It allows anyone to setup their own shelf and recommend it to friends, family and colleagues. If anyone makes a purchase the bookstore gets a cut. One of the downsides is that the shelf-owner, the one doing all of the organizing and promoting doesn’t make anything. There are some really big name publishers and companies supporting this, so likely funding and promotion won’t be an issue.