The interior of Fred's Bookshop in Ambleside

Fred’s of Ambleside Among Indie Bookshops Sharing Profit Generated On

The lovely little Lake District bookshop planning for the next 50 years
August 25, 2023

Fred’s of Ambleside is one of the 570 independent bookshops to share in the £3m profit generated since launch by, the ethical book-buying alternative to Amazon, with the website now setting the goal to increase online sales for indies by five times in the next five years.

The news comes as a survey from the Booksellers Association (BA) sheds new light on the digital footprint of independent bookshops in the UK, which is set to expand even further over the next few years. The BA and will be conducting the survey on an annual basis, to report on the development of indie bookshop online sales in the UK.

The survey finds that for independent bookshops in the UK online sales make up a total of 7% of their overall revenue, with over half of them (52%) reporting that they are either somewhat or very dissatisfied with their online business, and express aspiration to grow their online sales by over 20% in the next year alone. The survey reports that the main obstacles that stand in the way to the indies doing more online business are lack of time and knowledge.

Since the pandemic, the book industry has seen remarkable growth in online sales – 60% of books are now bought online (source: Nielsen Book Data 2023). After generating £3 million for independent booksellers,’s goal is to increase online sales for the indies by five times by 2028, helping them fulfil their ecommerce potential.

To achieve this, they are asking customers to support independent bookshops like Fred’s of Ambleside through online sales – whether that is the shop’s own ecommerce platform or via – to bolster the indies’ portion of the online book market.

Fred's Bookshop In Gorgeous Ambleside
Fred's Bookshop In Gorgeous Ambleside

Independent booksellers are vocal about how their presence on supported their in-shop efforts, and not merely by bringing in incremental financial revenue. In addition to the commission generated by online sales, their presence on the platform contributed important new customer streams, gave them access to learning opportunities, and enabled them to invest in their local communities and staff, as well as upgrading their premises and funding special author events.

Su Hall, Owner of Fred’s Bookshop, said: “I took over as owner of Fred's earlier this year - only the third owner since the shop opened in 1956. As part of the transition, we closed for a refurbishment, but allowed us to trade continuously for the two weeks we were shut. Fred's is a small shop, located in one of the country's busiest tourist destinations (Ambleside, The Lake District). Now that we're on, we can offer customers who love the shop during their visit a way to continue to support us even after they return home. We can offer millions of titles at the click of a button, and our online sales help us keep our little village bookshop open for browsing when people are able to visit in person. Online sales help to make us more sustainable – so fingers crossed we'll still be a lovely little bookshop in Ambleside in 2056!"

As part of’s mission to allow independent bookshops to thrive in the age of ecommerce, last year they secured a partnership with TikTok, as the social media platform grew its role as influencing book-buying trends. Thanks to the partnership with, independent bookshops have easy access to a way of selling books through their social media, thus reaching an important portion of the online market.

The next step for the ethically conscious retail website is their expansion onto the audio and eBook market. For the first time, independent bookshops in the UK will be able to offer audiobooks and eBooks to their customers, all available on one easy-to-use platform.

As well as a great user experience, seeing audiobooks, eBooks and physical books all sold on the same platform, will apply the same business model as their physical book sales, offering independent bookshops a more generous cut than other affiliate-based retailer platforms. UK bookshops will be able to keep the full profit margin of any eBooks or audiobooks they sell, while all other sales will generate 10% for the profit pool.

The Fred's Bookshop Team
The Fred's Bookshop Team

Nicole Vanderbilt, Managing Director of UK, said: “Thanks to ethically conscious book-buyers in the UK, we are proud to have reached the milestone of £3 million in incremental profit generated for independent bookshops. However, we believe the online book market has many more opportunities to offer to independent booksellers – in a way, we’ve only helped them scratch the surface so far. As 60% of books are currently bought online, independent bookshops should aim to see a larger proportion of their books also bought online.

"We want to help them be competitive in the world of ecommerce, translating their knowledge, passion and creativity to the online world, and freeing them of the logistics of online book order taking and delivery. Whether on our TikTok shop or on the curated lists on our website, we pride ourselves on experimenting and being at the leading edge of new uses of technology for selling books. But we can’t do this on our own: we need publishers, authors, partners, bookshops and readers themselves to embrace our cause. Bookshops are primed and ready on our platform, we need the book world to change their ways. We believe that a world where independent bookshops are successful businesses, with a robust online presence, is a better world for everyone.”

To find out more about Fred’s of Ambleside, please visit their website HERE and their page at