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Book People

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Title: Book People  
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Subject: Companies established in 1988
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Book People

Book People
Industry Retail
Book sales
Founded Godalming, Surrey, England in 1988
Founder Ted Smart
Headquarters Godalming, Surrey, England, UK
Area served
Ireland, UK
Products Books

Book People is a discount bookseller based in the UK. Operating since 1988, the company sells books online, through its mail order catalogue, and in workplaces through a direct sales team of 420 book sellers. The company was established by Ted Smart in Godalming, Surrey[1] and now also has offices in Haydock, Merseyside and a warehouse and customer services centre in Bangor, North Wales. Since its formation, the Book People has acquired numerous other brands in the book sales industry, such as Red House and Index Books,[2] as well as managing book offers for national newspapers and providing third-party fulfilment for other branded websites.


  • History 1
  • Awards and initiatives 2
  • Business model 3
  • Financial results 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Book People was founded in 1988 by Chairman Ted Smart.[3] The company was established as a direct bookseller, relying on self-employed distributors to visit potential customers in their workplaces and meeting places. The Book People has since grown to become an award-winning bookseller, bringing discount books to people across the U.K. and Republic of Ireland through a network of distributors, mail order catalogues and an online ecommerce website.

Having initially operated solely from a base in Godalming, which since 1997 has been at Catteshall Manor, the company expanded, opening offices in Haydock in 1996 and later a customer service centre and warehouse in Bangor in 2002 and purchasing competitor Index Books Kettering in 2007. As on 31 December 2009, the company employed 612 staff.[4] As part of their growth, Book People acquired numerous brands, including Red House and Index Books. They used to host the online bookshops for Channel 4’s TV Book Club and CITV’s Bookaboo and currently host the Big Book Babble programme in conjunction with Scholastic.[5]

Awards and initiatives

In 2007, Book People’s contribution to bookselling was recognised as they won the Direct to Consumer Bookselling Company of the Year Award at the Bookseller Retail Awards. Founder Ted Smart was also honoured with The Random House Group Award for Outstanding Contribution to Bookselling.[6]

Upon opening the new warehouse and customer service centre in Bangor in 2002, Book People was praised for creating 180 new jobs, as well as 250 temporary/seasonal roles in North West Wales and received a grant from the Welsh Assembly Government to help fund the state-of-the-art facility.[7]

In August 2012 the company announced that they had reached a three year sponsorship deal with Bangor City F.C. of the Welsh Premier League. As well as having their logo on the club's shirts and advertising around the group 'The Citizens' new ground, Nantporth, will be known officially as The Book People Stadium.[8]

In November 2012, Book People were voted the 2nd best bookseller in the Books, CDs, DVDs and Computer Games category and 6th place overall in Which? Magazine’s Best Online Shops Survey.

On Book People’s 6th place rating in the Top Ten, Which? Magazine said: ‘Price was again one of the strongest areas for this company in a category where specialist sellers outdid many of the big high street names’. Book People was the only retailer in this category to achieve 5 out of 5 stars for price, making them the best value bookseller in the country.

Business model

Book People order and stock a restricted range of titles in bulk, forgoing the right of return. (The UK Book Market operates generally on a "sale or return" model i.e. a book seller may return unsold books to the publisher subject to limited return conditions. Publishers are willing to sell books very cheaply if they are not committed to accepting unsold books, reducing the risk of a book proving not to be popular. This reduces the publishers stock of Remaindered books. Therefore the limited range stocked by The Book People are purchased at prices below the competition). The company is highly skilled in rotating stock through its distributors, website and catalogues. At the end of their life, remaining stock is disposed of through its sister website,[9]

Financial results

According to The Book People Limited Annual Report, lodged at Companies House, Annual sales in the year ending 31 December 2013 were £83.8m, down from £93.1m in 2012, recording a loss after tax of £6.8m, an increase on the £2.5m loss the previous trading year (2012).


  1. ^ Last of the handsellers by Joel Rickett,, 28 January 2008. Archived here.
  2. ^ "The Book People To Buy Index". 2007-09-22. Retrieved 2013-08-02. 
  3. ^ Rachel Bridge (2005), "Ted Smart - Founder of The Book People", How I made it, Kogan Page Publishers,  
  4. ^ "Failure Page". Retrieved 2013-08-02. 
  5. ^ "Big Book Babble". Big Book Babble. 2013-01-22. Retrieved 2013-08-02. 
  6. ^ Blackwell takes awards crown by Graeme Neill,, 21 September 2007. Archived at Internet Archive.
  7. ^ "> Business > Book People to create 180 jobs in North Wales". News Wales. Retrieved 2013-08-02. 
  8. ^ Information on the agreement from the company website
  9. ^ Hickman, Clayton. "Top quality, hand-picked books at a fraction of high street prices". Bananas. Retrieved 2013-08-02. 

External links

  • Official website
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