Image: Stuart Simpson / Penguin

Image: Stuart Simpson / Penguin

Penguin UK launched its Christmas charity campaign today, pledging to donate one book to a good cause for every title sold on Bookshop.org.

The It Begins with a Book initiative is part of Penguin Random House's attempt to support sections of society most impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, as well as independent bookshops, which have seen revenues decline this year under two successive national lockdowns.

To achieve this goal, Penguin has teamed up with ethical bookselling platform Bookshop.org and Neighbourly, a social network that connects small charities and community champions with big businesses to tackle social issues at a local level.

The idea is simple: just buy one book from a list of hand-picked bestsellers on Penguin's Bookshop.org shopfront, and another will be sent to a person in need via one of the initiative's network of food banks, homeless shelters, and community centres across the country.

Perishable food rescue charity UK Harvest is one of the organisations who'll be receiving books through the programme, which it will pass on to refugees awaiting homes. "We have taken our children’s book donations from Penguin out to the domestic refugees we support, where there are over 30 children currently living with their mothers waiting to be rehomed in a safe location," said Director of Operations Stacey Cullen. "To be able to give the children a present, especially a book they can escape into, is a fabulous thing." 

There are 32 bestselling books to choose from, including novels such as The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman, Booker-prize winning Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo, and The Sentinel by Lee Child and Andrew Child, as well as non-fiction titles such as Nigella Lawson’s most recent book Cook, Eat, RepeatBarack Obama’s highly anticipated memoir, A Promised Land, as well as Charlie Mackesy’s bestselling The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and the Horse. A number of children's books are also on the list.

“At Penguin Random House, our mission is ‘we make books for everyone because we believe a book can change anyone’," added PRH UK Communications & Brand Director Becca Sinclair. "That change can be large or small, profound or simple, long-lasting or fleeting.

“Many of us have been turning to books through the pandemic, be it for information, entertainment or escapism. We want to share the power of reading and get our books into the hands of those who need them most, while continuing to honour our commitment to support independent bookshops through this challenging time.”

The latter is where Bookshop.org comes in. The platform is designed specifically to give readers the chance to buy books online while supporting their local bookshop at the same time.

Launched in early November, it allows independent book stores to create their own virtual shopfronts on the site and receive the full profit margin – 30% of the cover price – from each sale.

All affiliate proceeds from books sold on Penguin's Bookshop.org shop, however, will be contributed to the Bookshop.org profit pool to benefit independent bookshops across the country.

After just nine days of trading, Bookshop.org has already generated more than £100,000 for indie booksellers with 25,000 customers using the site.

The intiative comes eight months after Penguin donated £50,000 to match-fund a fundraising campaign for the Book Trade Charity’s hardship fund for booksellers particularly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

To find out more about the campaign, and purchase any of the 32 books on offer, visit Penguin’s It Begins with a Book online shop here.

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