Tooting resident launches second-hand bookshop on Instagram

A Tooting resident has found success after launching his own online second-hand bookshop on Instagram.

The Instagram account was set up by Jake Jeffers as an online shop, selling an eclectic selection of second-hand books delivered to the doors of south Londoners.  

It gained up to 1,000 followers in a day since the first post was made on 12 January, exceeding predicted demand. 

Jake, 29, was surprised by the site’s popularity so far as he followed in the footsteps of his father, Doug Jeffers, 74, who owned a string of bookshops in south London from the early 1990s. 

Jake said: “I’m really happy with how it’s done, I just want to get books out there. I’m not trying to make a killing out of it.” 

Jake works from a garage in Streatham, stacked with walls of boxes filled with books ranging from classic modern literature to large format prints. 

Jake said: “It’s a matter of pulling out a box and seeing what’s in it, whatever it is I’m going to stick it up.

“It’s going to be a real lottery, there’s a bit of everything so hopefully something for everyone.”

MY BACK PAGES: The original book store in Balham closed in 2013

Although self-confessed as ‘not a big reader’, Jake was already in the bookselling business, selling wholesale to the few remaining independent bookshops in London, which stopped when the UK went into lockdown. 

In the first lockdown, Jake provided books to bookspeckam who had started using Instagram to sell their products, but during the third lockdown, Jake thought he’d try the Instagram sell himself.

Jake, also a freelance fashion production assistant, said: “A lot of this came out of necessity for me rather than a real-life business plan but now it’s taken off, maybe it’s something I should be focusing more energy on.”

Doug, now retired, ran the popular My Back Pages bookshop in Balham for over 20 years until the shop was forced to close in 2013 due to rise in business rates.

Attempts to open another shop, Turn The Page, in Earlsfield, failed as selling was moving online and increasing rent made it difficult for a second-hand bookshop to stay afloat, so the store closed in 2016. 

Instagram has offered a visually accessible platform to easily put up stock and a different way to advertise, which may also have influenced the type of books people are interested in. 

INSTA SELL: Judging a book by it’s cover

Jake commented that items now in demand on Instagram had previously been sat on the shop shelf for ages without being looked at.

As people are confronted by the cover of a book in a different way they seem more open to new material. 

So far 80% of customers have been south-west London based, around Ealing Broadway, Balham and Clapham. 

Jake has been managing the growth of the site with the help of his girlfriend, currently hand-delivering many of the sales himself.

He hopes to start a Twitter and Facebook page soon to make the service accessible to more people. 

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