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How to buy books ethically

Updated: Apr 9, 2021

While I consider bookshops to be an essential service, the UK government doesn’t agree with me, and for now bookstores are closed until the end of lockdown. Luckily there are plenty of places to download e-books or buy print books online. Where could you shop if you’d like to buy books ethically? is a new website serving the UK and US markets (at present – more countries will follow). Bookshop differs from other online book sellers by donating 30% of the purchase price (the full profit) of a book to independent bookshops who are partners. You can nominate your local bookshop to receive the donation; find out where yours is by typing your postcode into the website’s Find a Bookshop locator.

Otherwise, buy from the website and your order will contribute to the pool of registered independent bookshops.

You can search for a specific book you’d like to buy or alternatively browse by genre. Recommendations are given by staff from ‘real’ bricks and mortar bookshops rather than an algorithm, so whilst it not quite the same as browsing in a bookshop it’s a darn site better than the soulless experience of shopping with one of the big boys.

I was surprised to see that the books were discounted (not enormously, by about 7%).

The Guardian publishes books, reviews books, partners with literature festivals and runs their own book awards. They also have an online shop which offers 140,000 moderately discounted books. They ship worldwide, and UK postage is free if you spend more than £20.

By buying from the Guardian bookshop you support independent journalism. The Guardian is owned by the Scott Trust which ensures editorial interests remain free of commercial pressures. The Scott Trust is the sole shareholder in Guardian Media Group and its profits are reinvested in journalism and do not benefit a proprietor or shareholders.

I don’t have a Kindle but I do occasionally read books on my iPad with the Kindle app. Now there’s a better (for me) alternative: a new free app which allows you to bypass Amazon and order ebooks directly from the publisher on youriOS and Android devices, and Windows and macOS computers.

4. Your local library via e-reading apps

If you are a member of a library, you don’t have to go through lockdown without your literary fix. You can get free ebooks, audio books and magazines with these apps: just type in the name of your local library and your membership number to access them.

When libraries buy one or more of the same book, a royalty payment goes to the author. The author gets exposure, ultimately resulting in more fans and more sales; a win-win situation.

A word of caution

You may think you are buying from an indie online bookshop, but some of these sites are owned by big tech companies. For example, Abe Books and Book Depository are both owned by Amazon, as is Audible.

There are good indie online booksellers: Hive is one of them.

This blog was originally published on Peppis Designworks

About the author:

Annette Peppis leads the team at Peppis Designworks, a creative hub of established publishing industry experts who create books, branding, marketing material and design templates for leading publishers and businesses. Keep in touch by subscribing to her bi-monthly emails.

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