50 Shades of Bookselling

One of the most maddening things in the booktrade must be dealing with Independent Bookshops. Everyone seems to want to help us. Everyone - at some level - understands that independents deliver more value into the book supply chain: collectively we allow different books to be discovered and championed, we do 101 different things both in and outside the shop with events. Some work, some don't - but all create communities around books.

But it's so frustrating. Independents refuse to be neatly pigeonholed. They are all so, well, independent.

Which is why this week's Independent Bookseller's Week is such a great initiative. With fantastic support from publishers and authors (and, judging from this week's response, the wider public) it offers up a selection of initiatives, limited edition books, authors for events - even a bookshop song - which provides an umbrella under which we can do our crazy, independent activities which suit our shops.

Our big contribution this week has been a Where's Wally Hunt around town involving ten other local retailers - and we've had people discovering shops in Abingdon they never even knew existed. Hopefully a great example of local bookshops supporting their shopping ecosystems - a word used a lot with digital devices, but far more applicable when talking about the High Street...

All this week Malcolm Boyden on BBC Radio Oxford has been inviting indie booksellers on his show to talk about initiatives around Oxfordshire. I was very pleased to be invited to talk about Mostly Books - and Wally - on Tuesday. Until July 10, you can listen to me talk about the daily miracles wrought by independent booksellers here (you'll need to fast forward to 1 hour 19 minutes into the show).

Malcolm gamely posed for a shot with bookseller, shameless IBW T-Shirt and Wally:

On Wednesday we joined in with 'Independent's Day' - a countrywide retail initiative, which had us talking to shoppers, and tweeting their purchases online.

And we also announced our game-changing (we hope!) tie-up with Angry Robot - the Clonefiles Initiative. Basically, buy the book - get the eBook free. Read the book in whichever format you want. Very exciting and we'll see what the response is over the coming days...


  1. Sounds like an exciting week. I love the 'Clonefile Initiative', t buying the book and getting the e-book free. Great out of the-box-thinking by you guys at Mostly Books and Angry Robot!

  2. Thanks Sally. It's a bit of a step into the unknown, but from our point of view it's something that we've wanted to do for a while. Lo and behold, turned out Angry Robot wanted to as well.

    The eBook debate has been going on for a while about what the real costs of producing a book are, and what an eBook should cost. Now there is an opportunity for publishers to do what magazines are increasingly doing - you pay once for the content, and have it in whichever format suits, for whenever you want to read it.