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Move over Amazon: Bookshop.Org offers a way buy books online while supporting local bookstores

“If you are buying a book on Amazon, you are directly undermining your local small businesses and your local, small, independent book store.”

San Antonio – Buying a book through Amazon may be cheap, but it does not support local, independent bookstores in San Antonio. That is where Bookshop.Org comes in, which offers a new way to buy a book that is just as easy as one-click shopping on Amazon, but sends money to local book stores all around the country.

Bookshop.Org is a business that gives back much of its profits to independent book sellers. Sarah High, a partnerships manager at Bookshop, says that, in total, the business will give 65-75% of sales to book sellers. 10% of all sales will go into a general pool for all bookstores, and stores around the country can get a 30% profit if buyers link directly to the store on Bookshop.Org. And High said the profit is not too far off from the 42% a book seller makes per sale, on average.

“It’s 30% instead of 42%, and with that 30% [book sellers] don’t have to do any packing, shipping, inventory, any customer service, any returns - we handle all that on our end,” High said.

Bookshop.Org buys its books through Ingram, which is the largest book publisher in the United States, High said. With access to the publisher’s warehouses, Bookshop.Org is able to offer some discounts on popular books. It won’t be as cheap as books on Amazon, but there is a reason for that. High said it is because Amazon does not sell books at a profit, because it makes up for that money in other areas.

“They are able to offer books at such a competitively low price that they are undermining the publisher, the author, the local, independent book store and the local, independent book seller. So it is really unsustainable, and I would argue completely cannibalizing way to buy a book,” High said.

There are several affiliate book stores in South Texas. In San Antonio, there are “The Twig” and “Nowhere Books,” as well as “The Boerne Bookshop” in Boerne and “The Book Haus” in New Braunfels. There are more affiliates across Texas and the United States.

There are two requirements to becoming an affiliate, High said.

“Have a physical location book store, so you can’t be online only, unfortunately, because we believe physical book stores need more financial help... And two, have an ABA or American Booksellers Association membership,” High said.

She said a membership may cost a few hundred dollars a year, but Bookshop.Org will help cover those costs. High said that last year alone, every bookstore received more than $1,000 from sales, just for being an affiliate. If you are a San Antonio Bookseller and meet the two requirements, just send an email to Sarah.High@bookshop.org to start the process of becoming an affiliate.

High said that Bookshop.Org is a great way to purchase a book while supporting local businesses. She says it can help anyone who may not live near a local, independent bookstore, or help anyone find titles or authors that may not be in a store near them. It also helps anyone who is looking to stay home during the pandemic for safety reasons. But, High said the website does not replace indie bookstores. She said that everyone should continue to visit their favorite local store if they have one, or search for a store near them to support in person.


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