This week, the New York Times ran an excellent article on the devastating effects of COVID-19 on independent bookstores, here. Community bookstores were already struggling to compete against Amazon, but now that even more shopping has moved online, many independent bookstores are literally facing a life-or-death holiday shopping season.
One ethical online alternative is Bookshop.org. Like Amazon, Bookshop.org is an online retailer with a full catalogue of every imaginable book. Unlike Amazon, Bookshop.org specifically contracts with local bookstores to complete your order.
In their mission statement, Bookshop says:
If you want to find a specific local bookstore to support, find them on our map and they’ll receive the full profit off your order. Otherwise, your order will contribute to an earnings pool that will be evenly distributed among independent bookstores (even those that don’t use Bookshop).
We also support anyone who advocates for books through our affiliate program, which pays a 10% commission on every sale, and gives a matching 10% to independent bookstores. If you are an author, a website or magazine, have a bookclub, an organization that wants to recommend books, or even just a book-lover with an Instagram feed, you can sign up to be an affiliate, start your own shop, and be rewarded for your advocacy of books. Bookshop wants to give back to everyone who promotes books, authors, and independent bookstores!
By design, we give away over 75% of our profit margin to stores, publications, authors and others who make up the thriving, inspirational culture around books!
We hope that Bookshop can help strengthen the fragile ecosystem and margins around bookselling and keep local bookstores an integral part of our culture and communities. Bookshop is a B-Corp – a corporation dedicated to the public good.
Currently, there is only one Tucson bookstores partnered with Bookshop.org, Mostly Books on Speedway. However, Bookshop.org is a relatively new venture that is beginning to attract significant media attention. Hopefully they will continue to expand!