Shop Local: Highbury bookshop goes online and joins new platform for independents

Author Betsy Tobin at Ink@84 in Highbury. Picture: Ink@84

Author Betsy Tobin at Ink@84 in Highbury. Picture: Ink@84 - Credit: Ink@84

A Highbury bookshop has joined others around the country for the UK launch of an online store “with a mission to financially support local, independent bookstores”.

Ink@84 in Highbury. Picture: Ink@84

Ink@84 in Highbury. Picture: Ink@84 - Credit: Ink@84

Ink@84, in Highbury Park, is keen for customers to keep using its own website - the margin is “significantly” higher - but it has joined which is newly launched in the UK.

The site says it aims to support independent bookshops, with more than 130 independent UK bookstores signed up. 

Author Betsy Tobin, who runs Ink 84 with artist Tessa Shaw, called the launch an “amazing feat”, saying is “not aimed at those who are already loyal independent bookshop customers, but rather at those readers currently using Amazon who are seeking a more ethical alternative”.

Ink@84 already has a successful online presence, Betsy said, as a result of the first lockdown.

“We were forced to be nimble and reinvent ourselves,” she said, adding that the website aims to “recreate the curated browsing experience we offer in shop”.

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In the second lockdown, joining has given Ink@84 a way to bring more traffic to its own website as well as set up an additional page on the US-born independent book site. 

“ is a way to indulge our sense of fun,” said Betsy, as it allows them to be more creative with their virtual book lists – for instance, showcasing key texts celebrating women in politics.

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“We do receive a significantly lower margin from [’s] commission, so we ask our current customers to continue to shop with us directly,” she said.

Ink@84 is keeping normal business hours for click-and-collect and postal delivery to “maintain a presence in the High Street” until it can reopen for customers.

The shop has started a Zoom workshop series, Starting Your Novel, with author Dr Louise Tucker. Another is due to begin in January.

The Ink & Drink Book Club has moved onto Zoom with the next taking place on Tuesday, December 1 at 7pm.

Betsy said the response from customers to how the shop has adapted “has been fantastic”. 

“With luck this lockdown will end in time for trading for Christmas,” she said, adding that they “will make it work whatever”.


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