Book People

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Book People
Industry Retail
Book sales
Founded 1988
Founder Ted Smart
Headquarters Godalming, Surrey, UK
Area served
UK, Ireland
Key people
William Wellesley (CEO)
Simon Mason (COO)
Ajay Patel (CFO)
Scott Scott (CDO)
Products Books
Owner Endless LLP

Book People is a discount bookseller based in Godalming, Surrey, UK. Founded in 1988 by two book enthusiasts, Ted Smart and Seni Glaister,[1] on the principle of making books available and affordable to everyone, Book People sells an extensive range of hand-picked books, gifts, toys and stationery through its award-winning website, mail-order catalogue, and in workplaces and schools via a nationwide network of Book People Local distributors.


Book People started business in 1988 with one van, visiting offices in the Guildford, Surrey area, where the company found its first customers. By 1990, there were 140 Book People Local distributors around the country visiting workplaces such as bakeries, banks, schools and hospitals.[2]

As demand for their books grew, Book People launched their mail-order catalogue, to give their customers another convenient way to shop their range of hand-picked books. This was shortly followed by their online store in 1998, giving Book People’s growing number of customers a place to buy all of their books from one easy-to-use website.

Having initially operated solely from a base in Godalming, Surrey, the company went through a period of rapid expansion by opening offices in Haydock, Merseyside and a customer service centre and warehouse in Bangor, Wales in 2002. As of February 2016, the company employed over 600 staff.[3]

In September 2014, Endless LLP, a UK-based equity investor, supported a management buy-out of Book People.

Business model[edit]

Book People’s dedicated team of buyers use their years of experience to carefully curate the company’s ‘hand-picked favourites’ range. They then order and stock this restricted range of titles in bulk direct from publishers and suppliers, forgoing the right of return, which gives the company the unique opportunity of offering customers savings of up to 75% off RRP on 1,000s of products.[4]

Book People also stocks an extensive range of over 100,000 books, gifts, toys and stationery – where their customers can browse and buy bestsellers, classic books, chart titles and more, which offer savings up to 20% off RRP.

Book People Local[edit]

Book People Local is the company’s offline direct-to-consumer channel, which has been bringing books to companies, schools, charitable organisations and hospitals all over the United Kingdom since the company’s formation. Book People supplies Book People Local distributors with a selection of books and gifts to be delivered directly to customers in places of work. These items are then left in the workplace for potential customers to browse and place their orders. Seven days later, the distributor will return with customers’ ordered items.

Book People Events[edit]

Book People Events runs parallel to Book People Local, giving companies’ staff the opportunity to explore an even wider range of books, gifts, toys and stationery in the form of one-day workplace events, as opposed to drop-off visits provided by Book People Local. Book People Events also allow companies to raise money for charity, with 10% off all proceeds going to the workplaces’ chosen charitable causes.

Gift People[edit]

As part of its growth, Book People has acquired numerous brands since 1988, including Red House Children’s Books and Index Books.[5] Formally known as Index Books and rebranded in 2015, Gift People is the company’s arm which specialises in gifts, toy and stationery, while also carrying books which tie in with their range of gift products - working in the same direct-to-consumer manner as Book People Local distributors, providing a different range of products.

Awards and initiatives[edit]

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.[6]

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.[7]

Book People previously hosted online bookshops for Channel 4’s TV Book Club, CITV’s Bookaboo, and the Big Book Babble programme in conjunction with Scholastic.[8] From 2008 until 2014, Book People operated and hosted the Queen of Teen award, which biannually honoured authors of teen fiction. Past winners of Queen of Teen include Louise Rennison (2008), Cathy Cassidy (2010), Maureen Johnson (2012) and Juno Dawson, née James Dawson, (2014).[9]

In November 2012, Book People was 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.[citation needed]

On Book People’s 6th place rating in the Top Ten Best Online Shops Survey, 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.


  1. ^ Rachel Bridge (2005), "Ted Smart - Founder of Book People", How I made it, Kogan Page Publishers, ISBN 978-0-7494-4311-5 
  2. ^ About Us by Book People, 2016.
  3. ^ "Failure Page". Retrieved 2013-08-02. [dead link]
  4. ^ Book People Promise by Book People, 2016.
  5. ^ "The Book People To Buy Index". 2007-09-22. Retrieved 2013-08-02. 
  6. ^ "> Business > Book People to create 180 jobs in North Wales". News Wales. Retrieved 2013-08-02. 
  7. ^ Blackwell takes awards crown by Graeme Neill,, 21 September 2007. Archived at Internet Archive.
  8. ^ "Big Book Babble". Big Book Babble. 2013-01-22. Retrieved 2013-08-02. 
  9. ^ "Queen of Teen". Queen of Teen. 2014. Retrieved 2014.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)

External links[edit]