by Bailey Potter, Collaborative Editor
There are a number of reasons why the online book retailer Bookshop.org is amazing, but the top reason to love buying books from them is to support (more than 1,400) indie bookstores, which is why they started as a business in the first place. Their mission is “to help local, independent bookstores thrive in the age of ecommerce.” And unlike buying books from Amazon, you can guarantee that the folks who work at and created Bookshop.org love books just as much as their consumers. That’s the true beauty of it—buy books from people who actually care.
The creators of Bookshop.org (a small group of investors, if you were wondering) watched—as many of us in the publishing industry did—in growing horror as Amazon’s near-monopoly solidified, slashing book prices to crush the competition in bookstores, and ultimately force “publishers, their authors, and the booksellers who sell on Amazon [to] pay more each year for Amazon’s distribution and advertising services but receive less each year in return.” In defiance of Amazon’s bullying tactics and out of the desire to better serve everyone in the book business, Bookshop.org was born, providing book lovers with a sustainable and socially conscious online bookstore. In fact, “in 2021, 81% of [Bookshop.org’s] gross profit margin went directly to independent bookstores.” That’s what I call progress.
If you are a die-hard fan of your local bookstore (hi, Powell’s!), you’re in luck. You can locate specific bookstores on a map and purchase books from them on Bookshop.org, and they’ll receive all the profit! If you’re a fan of supporting any and all indie bookstores, then your purchases will go to a revenue collection that spreads the profits out to all stores on their list. The fun thing about being able to find and support your local store(s), though, is you get to see the unique book lists that their staff members put together, like Broadway Books’ 2022: The Year of Reading Ursula K. Le Guin.
If you want to support specific books or authors and earn a little something in return, especially if you are an influencer, book reviewer, or work in publishing or bookselling, you can do so by becoming an affiliate for Bookshop.org, which will grant you 10 percent commission on every sale, and they’ll donate an additional 10 percent to independent bookstores. You just need to provide links to the books you promote wherever you do so, sit back, and reap the rewards. Even stores who are affiliates can do this, with the added benefit of not having to handle inventory or shipping and handling and still earn the full profit margin.
Convinced yet? Either way, check out these last facts:
- They’ve won impressive business-level awards like the Fast Company’s 2021 World Changing Ideas Award and the 2022 Anthem Award. They’re also a B-Corp and climate neutral certified.
- When they are delivered, your books are in a made-to-size cardboard package, just waiting to be recycled. As part of their climate neutral company promise, Bookshop.org tries to minimize waste wherever they can.
- For those in the publishing industry, you’ll be tickled to learn that each book’s page also lists its BISAC categories, something that bookstores rarely show to consumers!
If you weren’t already a Bookshop.org supporter, I hope this causes you to #maketheswitch and tell your friends! And with that, I’m going to go buy a book now.
A book enthusiast since the boom of Harry Potter when she heard her calling at the age of seven, Bailey Potter is an Oregonian, an editor, a witch, a cat-cuddler, and a hiker. She received her BA and MS from Portland State University and can usually be found reading fantasy, historical fiction, and YA books—bought from either Bookshop.org or any and every indie bookstore she can find.