What is the UK version of America’s Indiebound? Carry on reading if you have no idea what Indiebound is.

As far as I can make out there isn’t. If I’m right, and I think I am, that’s nothing short of a disgrace especially as Indiebound itself carried this headline on its website:

U.K. Booksellers Association to Adopt IndieBound

The Booksellers Association of the United Kingdom & Ireland (BA) will be launching an IndieBound marketing campaign for members of its Independent Booksellers Forum in early 2010. [my emphasis]

In its November magazine, Bookselling Essentials, the BA gave members a sneak preview of IndieBound and said, “We are thrilled to be working with the American Booksellers Association to facilitate the IndieBound campaign into the U.K.”

“We are so delighted to be working with ABA on bringing IndieBound to U.K. independents,” said Meryl Halls, head of membership services for the BA. The BA’s hope “is that IndieBound can not only help booksellers to create a visual impact in their windows and shops, but also become a real force for good in their wider community,” Hall said.

ABA Chief Marketing Officer Meg Smith participated in the BA’s Independent Booksellers Forum at Warwick University, where she presented background information and marketing materials developed for IndieBound in the U.S. to more than 100 independent bookstores of the BA. “The audience reaction to Meg Smith’s presentation was overwhelmingly positive—a show of hands afterwards showed near-unanimous support for bringing IndieBound into the U.K.,” the BA said.

Smith said, “The most rewarding part of our experience with IndieBound has been seeing all the creative ways that independent booksellers have found to spread the message in their stores and their communities. We’re very interested to see what booksellers in the U.K. will do.”

Plans call for the BA to launch an IndieBound website in the New Year, and bookstores will sign up to receive IndieBound posters, bookmarks, stickers and more.

Thanks to Bookselling This Week!

The part I find truly disappointing is this – “Plans call for the BA to launch an IndieBound website in the New Year.”

We are still waiting about 10 years after all that hullabaloo.

Indiebound in the US is a terrific website helping readers, indie authors, and indie bookstores to find books and bookstores all over the States. Type in a search and the book or books appear. Simple! Those books are curated from the Ingram catalogue and include print books in Amazon’s Expanded Distribution, which is Ingram anyway. So, it apples equally to authors with free ISBNs as well as those who pay for them

Not only does the site list books, it also enables the visitor to type in a zip code and it will locate an indie bookstore for you, or you can buy direct from the site.

There you can see the hardcover edition of one of my books along with other print edition ISBNs. What more can anyone ask for? It’s perfect.

So why hasn’t Britain’s Bookseller Association (BA) done anything like this? It’s not rocket science.It strikes me one of the reasons is the British book industry is totally fragmented. But more of that later.

It seems like BA is content to launch an independent book shop location app. That’s okay, but there is still nothing that remotely approaches the sheer professionalism of the Indiebound site.

Back to my comment about the fragmented state of the industry in Britain, it seems the list of ‘things-to-do’ to gain ‘visibility’ for your print books is never-ending. I mean to ensure the book shops (not bookstores in Britain) know about your books so they can either be carried in stock (inventory), or at the least listed on the bookseller’s website for online purchase.

That is where this post started to germinate as an idea. If you click this link (opens in a new window), you will see firstly my new ‘Book Shop’ page. if you then come back here and click this link, you will see one of my books with all the different retailers’ buy buttons complete with logo.

Alternatively. on that first click. you will see this red ‘SEE ALL RETAILERS’ button. Click it!

Neat, really, and if you want to know how I did that (the logo buttons), leave a comment and I’ll tell you. By the way, it’s free but you need a WordPress website.

Anyway, I noticed some UK book shops didn’t list my print books, or at least not all of them. Some did and some didn’t. I queried this with some of the book shops pointing out I was doing all that could be expected such as (a) my books were definitely in the Ingram distribution catalogue, (b) they were listed on Neilsen Title Editor – the UK equivalent of Bowkers BIP (Books In Print), and were all listed in the Gardners Extended Retail Catalogue.

The reply I received from Blackwell’s was speedy and proficient but typifies the fragmented nature of the UK book industry. In the email, they said this:

Thank you for your email regarding your data on our website.

We’re very pleased to let you know that we use BDS as our principle bibliographic data supplier. We have also transitioned from BIC to Thema, the new global category scheme for the book trade (http://www.editeur.org/151/Thema/). Both these moves, in addition to dramatic changes on the Blackwells.co.uk site, mean that there are even more opportunities for publishers to make sure that biblio metadata is working hard to sell more books.

So what can you do about improving your data?

BDS is able to accommodate a variety of data feeds and formats, including ONIX. Listing your core metadata, enriched data and images with BDS is completely free; we do not charge publishers for listing their titles with us, so for further information please contact their Publisher Liaison Team on:

Tel: 01387 702251
BDS Ltd Annandale House The Crichton Dumfries DG1 4TA

Excellent! But please, doesn’t this show how many hoops you need to jump through if you want your print books to gain maximum exposure. The trouble is that so many of those hoops are invisible because of the industry fragmentation in the UK.

A British version of the American Indiebound website may not provide all the solutions, but my goodness it would really assist readers, self-published independent authors and independent book shop owners.

Have you experienced something similar connected to the UK book industry or have you any tips to pass on? I’d love to hear from you.

By the way, I have contacted ALLi about this and they may deal with it on next month’s ALLi podcast.

Within minutes of publishing this post, I received an email from the UK’s Booksellers Association in response to my query about future plans. This is what they said:

Dear Stephen

Thank you for getting in touch.

As you say, the article is 10 years old. I believe we may have had a separate website at some point, but there are no plans to resurrect it.

Unlike the American Booksellers Association, we represent 95% of bookshops in the UK and Ireland, not exclusively independents, so our services and campaigns differ in a number of ways to those of the ABA.

Best wishes


Emma Bradshaw, Head of Campaigns

Booksellers Association of the UK & Ireland Ltd

There you have it. Totally fragmented as it represents the interests of both independents and others, Guarding vested interests is a speciality in Britain. We may have even invented the concept!



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