As part of the Women in Publishing conference I’m attending this month, I attended a “Fireside Chat” with Bookshop.org and came away really excited about it. It’s something I think both my reader and writer buddies will like.
Basically, it’s a platform where you can buy books online and support local independent bookstores at the same time. The company is a B Corp, meaning they focus on their mission and the public good above financial interests. And their mission is to help local, independent bookstores thrive in the age of e-commerce. They do this by donating over 80% of their profit margin to independent bookstores.
How Does It Work?
Buyers go to the Bookshop.org website and search for the book they want (or browse some of their curated lists). From the main page, you can pick a local store near you. Or just buy the book. If you pick a local store, that store will receive the full profit from the book you bought as if you bought it from them in person. If you don’t select a specific store, the profit goes into a profit sharing pool that is divided amongst all the bookstores registered with Bookshop.org.
Right now, Bookshop.org sells mainly print books. They source the books from IngramSpark, the major distributor that Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other big retailers get them from. However, they also sell audiobooks via an affiliate partnership with Libro.fm and—according to the rep on the Zoom call—ebooks are on the roadmap for the future.
A bonus is that Bookshop.org has a strong affiliate program for authors and bookstores who want to sell online. For an example, if you buy my book, Left Turn, from my page on the site, I’ll get a nice commission AND an independent bookstore of your choice gets the profit from the sale.
Things to Come
It’s a new(ish) platform and still has a few things on the drawing board. They started the business in 2020, intending to grow organically, but the pandemic sped up their timeline so they could help local booksellers survive. Now that things are stabilizing (and their platform has grown), they’re looking to expand their offerings.
Services on the roadmap include:
- Ability to buy ebooks
- Free shipping. (Currently, they have paid shipping in the US. But they are working on a free shipping solution.)
The big takeaways are:
- Buying books through Bookshop.org allows you to support independent bookstores.
- You can encourage your local bookstore to register with the store and make some extra money.
- Bookshop.org provides an alternative to buying books on Amazon.
(That last point takes on extra meaning with some of Amazon’s business practices coming into question over the last year, especially in the indie publishing arena.)
Check out Bookshop.org today and start supporting your favorite authors and independent bookstores.
And please, comment below. I’m always interested in learning other’s thoughts and ideas about the topic.
Some links in this article are affiliate links and I earn a commission if you use them to make a purchase.