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WH Smith launches buy-back scheme for secondhand books

WH Smith has launched a buy-back service for used books, providing readers vouchers in alternate for his or her secondhand volumes.

Via the BookCycle scheme, launched on Tuesday, readers register their books on-line, take them to a department and obtain an e-voucher to spend in retailer or on-line. The books shall be “handed on for an additional reader to take pleasure in or shall be responsibly recycled”, in response to the WH Smith web site.

Customers will register a e book utilizing the ISBN quantity earlier than being given a worth, which relies on “standards similar to its situation, the recognition of the title and its demand out there”. A paperback model of Richard Osman’s The Thursday Homicide Membership is valued at 30p, whereas a hardback copy of Britney Spears’ newly launched memoir is valued at £3.10.

The scheme is one in every of a number of launched lately that declare to deal with the environmental influence of the e book publishing business, which incorporates deforestation, paper milling, printing, packaging and transport. In 2021, the Publishers Affiliation launched a sustainability pledge known as Publishing Declares; it now has 162 signatories, together with Penguin Random Home UK, Simon & Schuster UK and HarperCollins. In April, the Society of Authors launched Tree to Me, a marketing campaign aimed toward encouraging publishers to cut back their environmental influence.

“It makes nice sense for our prospects and our enterprise to assist a round economic system for books, as we intention to minimise our influence on the setting and assist our native communities,” stated WH Smith group business improvement director Ian Sanders.

The retailer is working the scheme in partnership with Zeercle, an organization that gives buy-back companies. On the WH Smith web site, it says that “the vast majority of the books” will discover “new houses by way of Zeercle’s resale channels which provide secondhand books at lowered costs”.

Chris Edwards, who owns unbiased secondhand bookshop Skoob Books, stated that although the scheme will assist readers do away with undesirable gadgets, he believes it might function extra like a “recycling service” than a bookselling one. He’s uncertain that the scheme is “something to do with the secondhand e book commerce” as a result of there’s “no proof to recommend there’s a rise in secondhand gross sales” of the kinds of standard books that the scheme is more likely to appeal to. Previous to Brexit, booksellers would promote extra e book inventory to Europe, however this now not often occurs as a consequence of gross sales being topic to twenty% VAT, Edwards defined.

Edwards additionally puzzled how it is going to be financially viable for WH Smith and Zeercle to recycle books, on condition that the UK is “not a beneficial recycling setting since Brexit”. WH Smith might as an alternative be launching the scheme to extend footfall or to encourage individuals to enroll to a web based account, he stated.

“This sounds somewhat too good to be true with used books already flooding [the] market right here,” sustainability organisation Sussed within the Forest said in a submit on X.

Zeercle CEO Eric Gagnaire stated that “our enterprise shouldn’t be recycling books however reselling books within the UK” by way of on-line marketplaces together with Amazon and eBay.

Authors won’t be compensated by way of the scheme. “Whereas we’re eager to see books reused from a sustainability standpoint, this initiative may very well be detrimental to creator incomes,” stated Nicola Solomon, CEO of the Society of Authors. “Most authors obtain full royalties on books offered by high-street bookshops,” however “not often obtain royalties or different funds from gross sales of secondhand books”.

Gagnaire stated that if the scheme is a “success”, the corporate will “examine” options similar to AuthorSHARE – a scheme launched in 2021 that permits authors to be compensated for books offered by way of massive on-line secondhand bookseller World of Books.

“We’re dedicated to serving to our prospects with the price of residing and inspiring studying throughout all sections of the group,” a WH Smith spokesperson instructed the Guardian. “Our partnership with Zeercle delivers each, serving to prospects by giving them a refund for books sitting on cabinets at residence, and enabling them to redeem that cash for brand new books in our shops.”