1.47 million customers flock to ethical alternative to Amazon

  • Over 1,200 independent bookstores benefitting from the platform
  • Independent booksellers report Bookshop.org has helped them attract new customers, build an online presence, feel connected to their community and even open new stores

JULY 19th 2021. New York. Bookshop.org, the ethical online marketplace which supports independent bookstores, announced today that it has generated $15 million for its affiliated stores since the site launched in January 2020.

The platform financially supports over 1,200 indie bookstores across the US, with an additional 26,000 non-store affiliates contributing to the impressive results by offering online shoppers an ethical alternative to Amazon that supports local businesses. With a 17% year-on-year growth, Bookshop.org has demonstrated the value of the young start-up not only during the COVID-19 pandemic, but also as the bookstores, and the local communities they serve, face the ever-growing threat of Amazon.

Booksellers using the platform have reported the many ways in which Bookshop.org has been a financial lifeline in a particularly challenging time, with the additional income allowing many to survive the challenges of the pandemic, pay rent, create corporate orders for e-gift cards, and even open new stores.

Fawn Fernandes, Owner of Curious Capybara Bookshop (Hendersonville, TN), said: “I opened my children’s bookstore in September 2020 – right smack dab in the middle of a world-wide pandemic. I did it because I believed our area needed a children’s bookstore, now more than ever. And I was right! But of course, with the struggle of opening any new business, let alone a bookstore, let alone during a pandemic – well, it’s not been easy. We received our semi-annual Bookshop.org funds at a time when I wasn’t sure we would be able to make rent. And while it may not make a huge impact on some of the larger stores, for my small start-up it was literally a game-changer. But it gave me more than funds in my bank account. It gave me hope. It gave me encouragement that not only could I make this work, but I had a huge network of people – other bookstores, the staff at Bookshop, people who SHOP at Bookshop.org – that had my back, that loved books as much as I did, that wanted me to succeed with my little shop. These funds mean more than money. It means community to me. And for that, I will be forever grateful.”

In addition, Bookshop.org has been offering more than just financial support to booksellers: it’s been strengthening their online presence, helping them with social media exposure, enabling them to reach wider audiences, expanding their offer and inventory, allowing them to share personalised lists and recommendations with customers, and creating a sense of community.

Dr. Artika R. Tyner, Ed.D., M.P.P., J.D., from Planting People Growing Justice Leadership Institute, said: “Bookshop has meant growing our business with the support of our community. Thanks to Bookshop, we have been able to expand our inventory and offer additional resources for the community. We are a social enterprise therefore with each book sold we are able to promote literacy and diversity in books through our non-profit, Planting People Growing Justice Leadership Institute. Bookshop has connected us with book clubs across the nation. Our book lists provide key readings related to taking strategic action for justice and equity.”

Amazon’s market share of US book sales has grown at an average of 8% per year since 2015; if that continues, it will account for 80 percent of books sold directly to consumers by the end of 2025, which could put many much-loved local bookstores at risk of closure. In the face of the ever-growing threat of Amazon to the book-selling ecosystem, Bookshop.org’s mission is to help independent, local booksellers survive and thrive.

In an open letter published earlier today, Bookshop.org C.E.O. Andy Hunter thanked customers for their support of indie bookstores but stated that there is still more to be done to make sure bookstores can hold their own against the online retail juggernaut.