NearSt – Amazon without the Amazon?

A new company has launched in London that aims to deliver books from local bookshops to customers within an hour of ordering them. Currently only available in Central London, its business plan is to expand to other metropolitan centres in the next 12 months.

The concept is simple – a shopper looks for their book of choice through the NearSt website and they will locate it in the inventory of a nearby bookshop. They then pay for it online and can either have it delivered within the hour or pop down to the bookshop to collect it themselves. In the near future NearSt will break out of books and offer other things too.

Amazon is seen as the foe of the traditional bookshop, having taken down even giant chain shops such as Borders over the years and many hundreds of other stores since. The idea of NearSt is to promote local booksellers and help them flourish. The new company only takes 6% of the final fee from the bookseller for the service, but this is much better than going into direct competition with little guy shops and costing them their profits altogether.

Speaking to The Guardian a small bookshop owner Betsy Tobin who uses NearSt said, “From our point of view the chief attraction was not so much to ‘take on Amazon’ as to drive new customers to us: we’re a new business, having opened only last December, and many people in our area still don’t know we’re here. Our customers already eschew Amazon in large part; you’d be surprised how many people do. But yes, if NearSt makes it easier for them to do so, then it is good for us, good for the industry and good for books more generally.”

Those looking to buy books, or even to sign their bookshop up to the scheme can find NearSt at https://near.st/

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