Was volunteering again at News From Nowhere on Friday and again I enjoyed it. Did little tasks again such as checking new books in the system, folding leaflets and dusting (with the new duster everyone was excited about because they hadn’t had a new one in 10 years) but on Friday I got to learn how the post works.

Now previous jobs regarding post was pretty straight forward but I’m starting to learn more about how this shop works. Mandy, who is training me up told me about the different ways they get their stock. Some publishers like Penguin do their distributions straight to the store. However, other big publishers like Bloomsbury handle their distribution through someone else like Macmillan. Another way the shop gets books is though wholesalers like Bertrams. I was shown how to put each new book into the system and check off the invoice. I’m starting to understand how this cycle of books work. Any books that have not been in the system or on the shelf before need to be entered and put out on the new book display which is what I was taught last week. Hopefully I’ll get the hang of it all eventually.

I asked Mandy how their store is managing to stay afloat as an independent bookshop when there are so many chains in the city centre. She told me that it was very hard for independent book stores when the Net Book Agreement (NBA) was dissolved. The NBA was an agreement that fixed book prices between publishers and booksellers. However, once the NBA collapsed, it meant that large book store chains and supermarkets could sell bestsellers at discounted prices and do offers (like 3 for 2) and the amount of independent bookshops in the UK declined.

But Mandy said that the key to their store being one of the only independent bookshops left in Liverpool was “good customer service”. With the shop getting a lot of their books from wholesalers it means that if customers order books from the store they can come the next day whereas with Waterstones you’ve got up to a week to wait for your book. Mandy also said that it helps being a specialist bookshop (radical) and that they’ve built a small community with the shop. She said that even with Amazon and their discounted prices, people can trust a shop like News From Nowhere. She made a valid point about what Amazon had ever done for a community (speaking of their tax avoidance).

I think it’s great that a shop like News From Nowhere can still thrive in a city full of chains.