Bookshop.org launches strategy to expand indies share of children’s book market

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Bookshop.org, the online bookstore on a mission to support independent bookshops, today announces its new intention to support independent bookshops in getting a higher share of online children’s book sales.

The platform, which has already generated £2.7m for independent bookshops since 2020, is launching a new series of promotional opportunities that seeks to both celebrate and reward the passion and expertise of independent bookshops when it comes to placing diverse books into the hands of children to begin a lifetime of reading.

A Children’s Book of the Month in partnership with a different independent bookshop each month, making the most of the booksellers’ passion and unparalleled expertise in the area. The Rescue of Ravenwood by Natasha Farrant will be the March Children’s Book of the Month, as selected with DRAKE The Bookshop (Stockton on Tees). org will be offering free shipping to all customers purchasing a copy of The Rescue of Ravenwood from the website, from publication day (today) through 31 March.

Every customer who purchases a copy of The Rescue of Ravenwood will be also entered into a competition to win a £50 Bookshop.org gift card, as well as a £200 donation to the independent bookshop of their choosing. More details on the competition can be found here.

A dedicated Children’s Newsletter aimed at children’s book buyers among their 300,000 subscribers, which will showcase the breadth of recommendations shared on Bookshop.org by independent bookshops and affiliates.

‘Look-inside’ functionality, in partnership with Book2Look, which allows customers to preview pages from a title as they would in a physical bookshop, offering accessibility to the book’s contents when purchasing online. Piloted on the site since late 2022, it’s received positive responses from customers and bookshops alike, particularly with picture books.

Bookshop.org will also be setting up partnerships with some of their 11,000 strong affiliates including the School Reading List, The Reading Agency, Books For Topics and Empathy Lab, many of whom are already leading online conversations about books, education and children. The initiative will connect affiliates with independent booksellers, sharing recommendations and generating more funds for independent bookshops on the platform.

The announcement has been welcomed across the industry, with publishers, authors and independent booksellers recognising the impact will have on the children’s book retail landscape.

Richard Drake, Owner of DRAKE The Bookshop, said: “Independent bookshops are just the best! What better way to find out about all those awesome authors whose books are dying to be read than by asking the people in an indie bookshop. Authors who, once upon a time, were just like so many children who thought they couldn’t be authors and they didn’t have a story to tell. Authors who mean that every day more and more people can see themselves in a book! Indie bookshops work tirelessly to create welcoming and accessible spaces to allow children (and the grown-ups who come with them) to explore and choose books – and foster a love of reading which will last a lifetime.

Ruth Tinham, Deputy Head of UK Sales at Nosy Crow, said: “We work incredibly closely with our indies at Nosy Crow, and couldn’t value them more. They are the beating heart of the local community welcoming children all year round and working tirelessly to get the best books in the hands of new readers. Without their knowledge and enthusiasm, our job would be a lot harder.”  

The Shirley Hughes Estate said: “Shirley was an enormous champion of independent bookshops, and very much enjoyed meeting families in treasure troves like Pickled Pepper Books in Crouch End. There she saw first hand the value of knowledgeable staff able to suggest just the right book for the right child, as at ease chatting to parents or to young readers themselves. She also saw the important place they have on the high street and within local communities, welcoming families and present buyers alike who might then go on to another shop or perhaps to a café to read their new books.”

Robin Stevens, author of the Murder Most Unladylike series, said: There is nothing more crucial than children’s books, and nothing more joyful than helping a child discover the stories that really matter to them. Independent bookshops and bookseller play an incredibly important role in introducing children to the breadth and wonder of stories available to them – authors and readers are both hugely in their debt.”

Piers Torday, author of The Last Wild and The Wild Before, said: “It is independent bookshops that know their young readers like family, with that magical ability to hand-sell the right book to the right child at the right time – the kind of gift which can transform people’s futures. It’s that specialist knowledge and passion which is vital to maintaining our diverse, wide-ranging and rich British children’s literature market. Support your local independent bookshop and help change a child’s life.”

Alison Leach, Director at BooksForTopics and Bookshop.org affiliate, said: “There’s an incredibly rich and diverse offering available in the world of children’s books right now, yet the majority of the very best books miss out on the spotlight they deserve. By sharing recommendations from the community of booksellers and affiliates with real expertise, Bookshop.org are offering the opportunity for a greater range of books to take their rightful place at the virtual top table. I’m thrilled to hear of this chance to showcase children’s books and I’m looking forward to seeing the impact the initiative has on getting great books into the hands of readers young and old.”

Nicole Vanderbilt, Managing Director of Bookshop.org UK, said: “”As part of our core mission to ensure independent bookshops thrive in the age of ecommerce, we are delighted to be launching our new strategy targeting the children’s book market. Our aim is to increase the indies’ share of online children’s book sales. Two out of three books are bought online, and we believe indies deserve a much greater share of that market.

Independent bookshops play a pivotal role in connecting readers to titles including a much wider array of books than best-selling algorithms tend to surface. Their expertise and understanding of their customers, including little ones, clearly sets them apart and we want a world that enables independent booksellers to spark a love for reading from as many young readers as possible.”

For updates on Bookshop.org’s children-related initiatives, you can sign up to their new Children’s Newsletter here and see recommended reading lists from booksellers and non-book affiliates here.