Friday, March 1, 2024

Bookstores unite to take on global giants

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Tony Moores, who owns Poppies Books in Howick, is one of the people behind the new BookHub initiative. Times photo Wayne Martin

A popular east Auckland bookstore is involved in a David and Goliath effort to compete with online sales giants including Amazon.

Poppies Books in Howick is a key player in a new initiative called BookHub, which is described as “game-changer” for local booksellers and booklovers.

It’s seen New Zealand become the first country in the English-speaking world to launch an online collaboration between its independent bookstores.

The BookHub website allows readers to browse and buy books from more than 70 bookstores nationwide.

Poppies Books owner Tony Moores is Booksellers Aotearoa New Zealand’s project manager for BookHub.

He says it’s about allowing Kiwi businesses to work together to take on much larger ones overseas.

“We are all competitors, we’re all looking for business, and we all want to sell stuff ourselves.

“The important thing is to keep the business in New Zealand and try to encourage people to not just go to Amazon and buy something and get it shipped in from overseas when the book’s already here.

“That’s the thing people have embraced. They think it’s a really cool idea because it keeps business in New Zealand.”

Before BookHub, a customer would visit Poppies Books and ask if the shop had a particular title in stock, Moores says.

If it didn’t it would order it from the supplier, but heading into Christmas the timeframe for importing books from overseas gets tighter.

“We won’t be able to get books over from Australia before Christmas because the freight systems choke up,” he says.

“So anybody coming in from the back end of November to Christmas Eve wanting to get a book, the quickest way will be for us to check BookHub and say, ‘there’s a copy in Time Out [bookstore in Mt Eden] or Timaru or Invercargill, contact the shop and they’ll send it to you’.”

Moores says that will enable a customer to receive the book within two to three days with standard NZ Post delivery charges.

“It’s quick, you know exactly what it’s going to cost you and you know what’s available.

“We’ve got 56 bookstores involved currently and by Christmas it will probably be approaching 70.

“Next year we’re hoping to get some second-hand book dealers on board.

“It’s quite exciting to be on the ground floor with it and get it rolling.”

The initiative is new but the early evidence suggests it’s going to be a success.

“We’re getting reports already from ourselves but also from other shops around Auckland that they’re getting online orders from customers they’d never dealt with before,” Moores says.

“You have to adapt and look for clever ways to do business and I think this is one of them.”

Catriona Ferguson, association director of Publishers Association of NZ – Te Rau o Takupu (PANZ), says BookHub is the online platform the industry’s been waiting for.

“Taking an ingenious approach to highlighting local booksellers, BookHub has the power to transform the book retail landscape in Aotearoa New Zealand.

“PANZ warmly welcomes the opportunity for increasing sales for booksellers and publishers from Aotearoa New Zealand.”

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