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Revolutionary is the word that springs to Dr Jane Cherrington's mind as she describes the groundbreaking online bookstore she has recently set up.

The recently launched www.goodbooksnz.co.nz is an internet business with a difference - all profits are donated to the charity Oxfam for projects in the Pacific, Asia and Africa.

The site had a similar selection of books and pricing as online giant Amazon.com, but a better delivery service, said Dr Cherrington, who lives in Auckland but comes from England.

She even has plans for U2 frontman Bono, who supports the Make Poverty History campaign, which Oxfam is linked to.

"I've suggested Bono be a spokesman for us.

"Our long-term, and very ambitious goal, is to take on Amazon for Oxfam. And that's essentially what we are. We are an Amazon with a social conscience."

She said it was difficult in the beginning to pitch the idea. "Because we are donating 100 per cent of the profit, people didn't get it. They kept looking for the catch and saying "how are you benefiting?"

Dr Cherrington's father, who owns UK online book company The Paperback Shop, approached her at the beginning of the year with the idea.

She said a motivating factor for getting involved was to bridge the gap between the commercial world and communities in need.

"My vision is to make buying responsibly part of the structure of the marketplace and using the fast-growing internet book market to do this and profit communities in need."

She said she chose Oxfam because it was a "powerful, committed organisation that put poverty reduction and sustainable development at the core of its work".

Dr Cherrington, who has a PhD in psychology and is the former CEO of the Mental Health Foundation, said the idea was revolutionary. "Once people get the hang of it, there's no reason why this can't be a significant global player."

She said a trust called Good Books had been set up to run the business.

"I would like to use [the business] as a platform to participate in ways of transforming the system from within. When I was younger I wanted to close the system down and now I've realised ... you can work within it. If it becomes the norm to structure in a form of giving back to the community at every sale, that's fantastic."