Indie shops are stealing a sliver of Amazon’s bookselling revenue

A new marketplace called bookshop.org is giving small sellers a financial lifeline.


April 27, 2020

Score one for the Davids in the eternal slingshot war against the OG ecommerce Goliath.

The Washington Post reports that a start-up marketplace called Bookshop.org is going bonkers in the Bad Times, allowing small bookstores to commandeer a page of Amazon’s bookselling revenue.

They don’t even need a whole page — just a corner!

Amazon dominates the literary market, thanks to its bookish history and the way it kindled a revolution in how people read.

According to eMarketer data, 55% of books are sold online, and ⅔ of those are sales made by the Great Library of Bezos. Even grabbing a few lines of Amazon revenue would be a boon to the little guys.

Bookshop.org is helping them do that. When the pandemic set in, indies signed up at the Bookshop in droves. Shops that set up a storefront there receive a 30% cut of sales.

Total sales today are ~$4.5m, with $870k going to stores.

But make no mistake: This chapter might not have a happy ending

Indie bookstores are still hurting bigtime. Many weren’t ecommerce experts in the Better Times. Like so many other businesses, they had to spin up virtual sales and creative alternatives fast.

Just one example of the industry’s struggles: The Strand, the famed indie bookseller in NYC, has a dozen people left on the payroll after temporarily letting almost 200 workers go.

It spun up a web book club — called The Stranded, of course.

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