Today is the official launch day of the UK arm of Bookshop.org, a platform designed to be an alternative to Amazon but with the added benefit of helping independent book shops.
With its cheap prices and fast delivery, there’s no denying Amazon’s appeal. But as far as books are concerned, this comes at a cost to book publishers and authors as Amazon demands large discounts from publishers who want Amazon to stock their books. Amazon often sells at a loss, just to get customers to come back to their site and continue buying. This means book publishing has become less and less profitable – and that hits authors’ earnings. Additionally, as online shopping becomes more and more popular – or even a necessity just now – smaller retailers struggle to compete and perhaps don’t have the resources to manage an online store of their own.
Started in the US, Bookshop.org works in collaboration with independent book shops and the book distributor Gardners, to sell books straight from the warehouse – but independent book shops get the benefit. Bookshop.org manage the sales, with the shop getting a cut of the income.
- Search for your local shop on the Bookshop.org site (over 130 shops have signed up so far). Use their store page to buy books, and the shop gets 30% sales commission.
- Search for the book you want and buy direct from Bookshop.org. 10% of sales goes into an earnings pool that is split between all the shops.
- Buy from an affiliate shop (like mine!) and I get commission too. Anyone can set up an affiliate – eg. book clubs.
Please give Bookshop.org a go if you’re buying book presents in the run up to Christmas, or check whether your local shop is already doing online sales – I know many will be working behind closed doors to fulfil orders in the coming England lockdown. And don’t forget Waterstones, Foyles, Blackwells, WHSmiths and others who are all facing challenges right now, and were even before the pandemic. Just avoid Amazon, if you can!
Check out this article in the Guardian on Bookshop.org for the thinking behind the scheme.