Oxfam is the largest retailer of second hand books in Europe, selling around 12 million per year. Most of Oxfam's 750 charity shops around the UK sell books, and around 100 are specialist bookshops or book and music shops. A typical Oxfam bookshop will have around 50 volunteers, as well as a small number of full-time staff.
Books are donated directly to shops by the public, or through Oxfam "book banks" in convenient locations around the country. The profits of the book sales support the work of Oxfam.
Oxfam has been trying to shake off the dusty image of its shops, and the rapid expansion of specialist bookshops has formed part of that strategy. Modern Oxfam bookshops typically boast professional fittings and a wide range of stock, including recent novels, specialist textbooks and out-of-print curios.
Charity bookshops, particularly those belonging to Oxfam, have been criticised for forcing traditional bookshops out of business. Small bookshops have complained that Oxfam receives unfair advantages in the form of favourable tax rates and cheaper waste disposal, amongst other things. In response to these criticisms, Oxfam has said that much of the damage to small book retailers has come from supermarkets and online retailers, particularly Tesco and Amazon.
- Oxfam bookshops website
- - An example of a local bookshop that says it has been driven out of business by Oxfam.
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