Small businesses around the country are suffering as a result of COVID-19. Social distancing means we can’t frequent our favorite spots. It’s safer to buy online so we can cut back on physical interactions with others. But without our patronage, beloved local shop won’t necessarily still be operating when things finally get back to normal. Fortunately, a new website means we don’t have to choose between safety and independent bookstores. Thanks to Bookshop.org, we can purchase our favorite novels online while also supporting some of our favorite small businesses. And that means we can stop giving money to the richest man in the world.
Bookshop.org, which we learned about at InsideHook, fortuitously opened up operations just two weeks before the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic in response to the coronavirus. Bookshop CEO and founder Andy Hunter created the site to help small bookstores compete digitally with Amazon. It gives independent bookstores, which are not always equipped to handle online orders, a way to profit off of digital sales.
Oh this is fabulous. A new online platform, Bookshop, has created a centralized online shopping platform for independent bookstores around the country. Quarantine doesn't mean you have to resort to Amazon. https://t.co/2FYQ9DW1z9— Ali Watkins (@AliWatkins) April 2, 2020
Affiliates who sign up with Bookshop can make money two ways. The first is by selling with Bookshop via the store’s own links on social media, email newsletters, and their websites. Independent bookstores earn 30% commission (up from the normal 25% during COVID-19) “directly on any sales they generate, without having to do the work of keeping inventory, picking, packing, shipping or handling complaints and returns.” It’s a little less than they would normally get doing it on their own, but they don’t have to worry about the overhead of shipping, stocking, and maintaining a website.
Bookshop also gives “10% of all non-bookstore affiliate sales on Bookshop.org go to support participating ABA independent bookstores in an overall earnings pool that is evenly divided and distributed to stores every six months.” That’s more than double the 4.5% affiliate kickback Amazon provides. And the site is working as intended when it’s most needed. In March, it raised over $230,000 for independent stores.
Jeff Bezos doesn’t need that money. Amazon will still be around when this pandemic is over. But our favorite local bookstores do need it if they are going to survive the pandemic. So find an independent bookstore near you that participates with the store locator and help them survive.
Featured Image: Lifehacker