Oxfam finds money grows with books
Friday 31 October 2003
One kindly soul in Oxford handed in a first edition of the Lord of the Rings trilogy worth nearly £8,000, while in central London a rare 1965 copy of Paddington Bear worth £70 was left on the doorstep.
After decades of being associated with fair trade handicrafts and second-hand suits, Oxfam said yesterday its fastest-growing source of income wassecond-hand books.
The charity said "unprec-edented" demand at its little-known chain of dedicated book stores had prompted plans to increase its number of outlets by up to one quarter in the next 12 months.
Sales at Oxfam's 60 book shops have doubled in the past four years, turning what was once a musty sideline for its trading arm into a multimillion- pound operation.
Last year Oxfam sold 12 million books, raising £13m. This year it expects to sell 15 million, and open 10 to 15 more stores. Book sales account for 25 per cent of Oxfam's annual turnover of £51m from its 700 stores, compared with about 12 per cent in 1999.
Barney Tallack, the charity's strategic business analyst, said: "People are getting back into reading, as we have seen in the new books sector.
"What we have done is get into a position to benefit from that by dedicating staff and stores to turning high-quality donations into something that consumers want. The attraction of browsing in a bookshop is one that does not fade."
The expansion in secondhand sales has coincided with a rapid growth in the new books market, upfrom £2.96bn in 1999 to £3.36bn in 2002. This has led to a windfall for charity stores as readers clear out their bookshelves with increased frequency.
Oxfam claims it has maximised its share of the market by setting up brightly lit and modern stores to get away from the dank and dusty image of second-hand book shops selling dog-eared thrillers and yellowed romances at 20p a time.
The charity says its busiest stores sell up to a thousand books a week. It aims for an average price of about £2 a title and the average annual sales for each store are £170,000.
Oxfam says staff have become practised at spotting valuable classics and first editions. The J R R Tolkien trilogy was sold at auction for £7,900, while staff at the store in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, recently discovered a first edition hardback of Northern Lights by Philip Pullman worth £6,000. The first edition Paddington was found in a box left on the store's doorstep in Marylebone High Street.
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression
tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 I've been called an abusive and dangerous parent, when all I did was listen to my transgender child
- 2 Why this father didn’t hide his daughter’s heroin overdose in her obituary
- 3 Smartphones are making children borderline autistic, says psychiatrist
- 4 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 5 Teaching profession headed for crisis as numbers continue to drop and working lives become 'unbearable'
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins
Sherlock series 4: Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman have to be 'persuaded' to return, says Steven Moffat
London Marathon: Best running songs from Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar to 'Uptown Funk'
A victory for gender equality on the high seas
Oldest footage of London landmarks released
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
Rupert Murdoch berated Sun journalists for not doing enough to attack Ed Miliband and stop him winning the general election
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove