The Book People, the direct online bookseller and distributor touted by UK media in the past as a homegrown alternative to the Amazon behemoth, has taken out a business loan of  £2.5 million ($4.2 million), according to reports in the UK retail press, from Gordon Brothers Europe, a financial advisory and restructuring firm, ostensibly to help it through an off-peak period of trading.

Just to make the full circumstances clear, The Book People recorded a £2.2 million ($3.7 million) trading loss in its last reported financial year, 2012. Gordon Brothers Europe is the type of consultant advisor and financier that specializes in restructuring troubled businesses – the tagline on its website reads: “Creating value where others see none.” Prior to the loan, it had already undertaken an inventory valuation exercise for The Book People to help the company secure other lines of credit.

Remember that The Book People, for all that it may be a smaller UK competitor to Amazon, is as much a threat to independent bookstores in the UK as the Bezos Behemoth ever was. Yet Seni Glaister, CEO of the company, previously talked of “a dystopian disaster” in the UK book business if the British government didn’t step in to undo Amazon’s hegemony. At least as far as The Book People goes, that disaster could be already happening, which ought to give others pause about pursuing precisely the same business model.

And I apologize if there is even a hint of gloating in this article, but I’d follow that by saying, as a piece of business and PR advice: Don’t let your business get hijacked by other people’s opportunistic crusades or scapegoating exercises, or seek to benefit from those. You could end up harming both yourself and the cause you’re supposed to personify.


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