The Boston Globe recently reported on France's book culture and how it has been affected by the lockdown.
Before the pandemic and four years before this current date, bookstores were failing in Tokyo, Japan. Book sales were at an all-time low with the rise of e-books, and stores were on the brink of bankruptcy. In 2019, however, a shift was visible in the book market and sales started to rise steadily—the main reason, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, the manga series.
Most people nowadays in the United States are buying books online, specifically through Amazon. Though Amazon is convenient, it does not usually help out the small bookstore businesses that could use the help of a large corporation to gain more publicity within their community and across the United States.
Enter Bookshop.org. The website is just as convenient and as easy to maneuver as Amazon but gives back to local, independent bookstores with each of their sales. Bookshop.org gives back approximately sixty-five to seventy percent to booksellers, with ten percent going into a pool for all bookstores, and stores can receive a thirty percent profit if buyers access their store directly on Bookshop. Sarah High, the partnerships manager at Bookshop.org, says that the forty-two percent sales profit that standalone bookstores make per sale is not far off when using Bookshop.
‘It’s 30% instead of 42%, and with that 30% [book sellers] don’t have to do any packing, shipping, inventory, any customer service, any returns – we handle all that on our end.”
Bookshop.org works with Ingram, the top book publisher in the United States, to purchase books. Though pricing is higher than Amazon’s average cost, this is because book sales are Bookshop’s only source of revenue; this is compared to Amazon’s multiple sources of profit to collect from.
‘[Amazon is] able to offer books at such a competitively low price that they are undermining the publisher, the author, the local, independent book store and the local, independent book seller,’ High states. ‘So it is really unsustainable, and I would argue completely cannibalizing [the] way to buy a book.’
To become an affiliate with Bookshop, there are two requirements. The bookstore itself needs to have a physical shop and possess an American Booksellers Association membership. Though a membership with Bookshop may cost over a few hundred dollars per year, Bookshop helps cover those expenses, with bookstores gaining over $1,000 in just sales by simply being an affiliate.
Bookshop.org is an amazing way to help support small, local, and independent bookstores and make people who either don’t live near any local bookstores, are not going out as much because of the pandemic, and help find books that may not be at their own bookstores. Additionally, Bookshop.org regularly runs discounts on popular books. High makes it known though that Bookshop.org does not want to replace the indie bookstore experience, only support them and keep them on their feet within their own communities nationwide.
Featured Image Via WCNC
Readers and bibliophiles everywhere have taken up the call to #shopindie to support their local bookstores. Indie bookstores will continue to need that love into the new year. So, check out what books these incredible independent bookshops are looking forward to in 2021.
Earlier this week, Len Vlahos and Kristen Gilligan, previous owners of Tattered Cover, one of the country’s most iconic bookstores, sold the store to Kwame Spearman and David Back. Spearman and Back formed a limited liability company, Bended Page, with “a diverse group of Colorado-based investors and national bookselling and publishing experts” on board. The thirteen investors include Oren Teicher, the retired CEO of the American Booksellers Association and John Sargent, departing Macmillan CEO. Teicher and Sargent are among a seven-member board of directors, headed by Back, its chair, and Spearman, installed as the store’s CEO.
Image via Tattered COver
This announcement of the purchase was meet with a lot of criticism, especially by Black booksellers, because of the decision of the new owners to call the Tattered Cover the country’s largest Black-owned bookstore, which they say appears to be little more than a branding opportunity. This is because the majority of the ownership group’s members are white, and many, including Spearman and Back, come from the overwhelmingly white world of venture capital.
The store had been previously criticized be cause of their neutrality statement in response to to the killing of George Floyd.
During this very tumultuous year, Black booksellers have been at the forefront and have worked tirelessly to provide anti-racist titles to new white audiences. “I’m extremely offended. It’s a slap in the face to the work Black booksellers have been doing all this time, when we couldn’t get capital from banks to buy out existing businesses,” said Danielle Mullen, owner of Semicolon Bookstore in Chicago.
“It’s hurtful to Black booksellers who have been doing the hard work—and then they take the same credit without real Black representation. It’s disappointing and almost unbelievable. Especially with the history they have around the BLM protests and why they lost so many customers. It’s ridiculous.” She added: “It’s like if Jeff Bezos partnered with a Black person and then said, ‘Amazon is the biggest Black-owned business in the world.”
Justin Moore At Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee & Books in Philadelphia, even though reluctant to blame the new owners, added: “Being a Black-owned bookstore is more than just whose name is on the ownership papers. Just a simple transfer of ownership doesn’t automatically qualify you to be a Black-owned bookstore in the same way that almost every Black-owned bookstore in the country operates.”
Feature image via krex