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.