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Welcome to the Sustainable Frome discussion forum, aiming to discuss a wide range of issues to enable Frome (Somerset, UK) to become a more sustainable town.

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Posted: Feb 22 2010, 11:24 PM


Group: Members
Posts: 1
Member No.: 16
Joined: 9-February 07

I can't resist posting this email I've just received, a bit long for this forum but really important I think. Please tell me if I've posted my initial posting in the wrong place.
If you currently use Amazon, please think again. Hunting Raven is my first option, ABE BOOKS my second. Housmans will be my next.

"My name is Annie Poland from Housmans Bookshop. Housmans is one of the last remaining radical bookshops in London, not to mention Britain - hopefully you already know of us. Established in 1945, Housmans mission is to promote ideas of peace, human rights and a more equitable economy. The bookshop has been a hub of peace activism for the past 65 years. But we could really do with your help if we are to continue this role.

All around us bookshops small and large continue to shut down, and here at Housmans we are continuing to work hard to avoid the fate of so many of our contemporaries. With this in mind, I am writing to see if you could help us with our latest project, which could prove to be the saviour of Housmans, and secure our future. Housmans has launched an online shop, which can rival the stock carried by Amazon. We see this as an ethical alternative to Amazon, whose business practice involves union-busting, poor work conditions, and the squeezing of publishers and authors alike (for more details please see the press release below, and also check out our website at www.housmans.com <http://www.housmans.com/> ).

We really need your support in helping us to promote this new webshop. The power of the internet allows Housmans to interact with those outside the London area. If just one of your supporters from around the country were to regularly buy a book from us it would really make a significant difference.

There are a number of ways you could help us to promote the shop:

- run a story (based on the press release below) about Amazon’s poor work practices, and Housmans as an ethical alternative.
- allow us to have a web banner on your website that links back to our website.
- allow us to have an advert in your publication, preferably for more than one issue.

- or simply circulate this email amongst your mailing lists, or mention our efforts at your local meetings.

Please let me know if you can help us. If you are able to run an advert, or take a web banner, just tell me the size you need and I’ll get something made up that is suitable. Please find below a press release which should give you all the information you might need. Of course, if you would like to speak to me in person I would be only too happy – my contact details can be found at the bottom of this email.

Thanks so much for your support and time on this – it really is very much appreciated.

Best wishes,



Housmans – radical booksellers since 1945


Radical booksellers take on Amazon*_

Fifty years ago, in the aftermath of World War Two, a group of pacifists opened Housmans radical bookshop at its current address at 5 Caledonian Road, in London’s Kings’ Cross. Ever since, Housmans has worked hard to continue its mission of promoting ideas of peace, human rights and a more equitable economy by which future wars, and all their inherent suffering, might be avoided.
At a time when independent bookshops are closing down left, right and centre, Housmans is having to fight to hold its corner. The biggest threat to independent bookshops has been the rise, and subsequent domination, of the online bookseller Amazon.com. Amazon has achieved an unrivalled supremacy over the marketplace, but this near-monopoly wasn’t achieved without the usual unethical practices that are so common to the world’s biggest corporations.

What is wrong with using Amazon?_

In 2001 the Guardian first reported on the poor working conditions in Amazon's warehouses, and nothing much has changed since. In December 2008, a Sunday Times reporter went undercover to their Marston Gate warehouse near Milton Keynes and discovered that staff were required to work seven days a week and were punished for taking sick leave, even if they had a note from their doctor. According to Unite the Union, Amazon continues to see trade union representation as illegitimate.

But it’s not just Amazon workers who suffer at the hands of the multi-national corporation. Publishers are also squeezed for every penny, as Amazon forces them to supply them at rates so low that it leaves authors and publishers out of pocket – particularly damaging smaller publishing houses. Amazon’s dominance of the market means that publishers have little choice but to comply with their demands. Aside from the ethical considerations, this affects readers in reduced output from small presses, and diminished availability of radical titles.

_Providing an ethical alternative_

And so into this arena steps Housmans Bookshop. Housmans, in conjunction with Gardners Books, has just launched its own online bookshop to rival Amazon. Although still prioritising their stock of radical interest and progressive politics, the site is also able to provide around half a million general titles.

“Many of our most politically conscious colleagues use Amazon, and when asked why, it’s because they know of no alternative. But now, wherever they live, people will be able to support independent and progressive bookselling from the comfort of their own home. I think it’s essential that we are able to provide an alternative to help dent Amazon’s monopoly,” explains co-manager Nik Gorecki. “It’s up to sympathetic book buyers to do the right thing, and buy their books elsewhere.”

“This year Housmans celebrates fifty years of trading from our Caledonian Road address, but in order for us to be here another fifty years we have to stand up for ourselves, and trust in ethically-minded book-buyers to support independents. The staff at Housmans has fought many battles over the years for causes we believe in, and this is one battle we can’t afford to lose. Please support the shop that supports your campaigns!”


For more information regarding this please contact Nik Gorecki on 07950 269 286 or alternatively by email: nik@housmans.com

Housmans Bookshop
5 Caledonian Road
King's Cross
London N1 9DX Tel: 020 7837 4473

www.housmans.com <http://www.housmans.com>

Katy Duke
Posted: Feb 24 2010, 10:14 AM

Forum guru

Group: Admin
Posts: 483
Member No.: 1
Joined: 19-January 07

That's a great link, Meretta. Here is HOUSEMANS BOOKLIST.
Here's Hunting Ravens Orders Page on their website, also there is a free OVERNIGHT ORDERING SERVICE. Contact them on 01373 473111.

The Transition network tend to use Green Books based in Totnes for their publications. You can order green books from their online BOOKSHOP. :)

This post has been edited by Katy Duke on Feb 24 2010, 10:16 AM
Katy Duke
Posted: Feb 24 2010, 10:40 AM

Forum guru

Group: Admin
Posts: 483
Member No.: 1
Joined: 19-January 07

Hey, I just looked at ABE Books & they say "AbeBooks Inc. is a subsidiary of Amazon.com"....

... and I've moved this to 'Policy matters, green strategies, background reading, booklist, videos.
Key documents & useful global info., reading recommendations.', thanks!

This post has been edited by Katy Duke on Feb 24 2010, 10:44 AM
Posted: Mar 1 2010, 08:15 PM


Group: Members
Posts: 1
Member No.: 62
Joined: 17-May 07

Thanks, Katy, for getting me up and running on this forum.

When encouraging people to buy my books (!!), I always ask people to buy from their 'local independent bookshop' which for us is Hunting Raven. 'Small' writers need 'small' publishers' who in turn need independent bookshops.

Noy everyone is lucky enough to have a local independent bookshop. So the second option is to use an independent with the facility to buy by Internet. In my case, I have my own page at Bridport Bookshop in Dorset.


Amazingly they pay me a small commission on sales too, which Amazon certainly don't. But Amazon can also be helpful for small writers / publishers, since it's direct contact with readers and doesn't depend on having a vast marketing and public relations apparatus.

If you want to discuss these issues further, Sunday 11 July is Writers and Publishers Day at this year's Frome Festival.
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