Bookshop Platform Gives Independent Booksellers A Way To Sell Online

The company launched to help local bookstores compete against Amazon. Now it's helping booksellers survive COVID-19.

Bookshop Platform Gives Independent Booksellers A Way To Sell Online

In the face of the pandemic's shelter-in-place orders, many local indie bookstores had to rely on online sales to survive. But not all booksellers were equipped to sell products digitally. 

Andy Hunter: "That was my goal with Bookshop is to figure out 'Well, why can't a small mom-and-pop bookstore in a downtown compete with Amazon?'"

Bookshop is an online platform that lets customers support their local bookstores online — without booksellers needing to set up their own websites, ship products or even keep inventory. 

Hunter: "They're getting 30% of the full price. And we take that order and we send it to Ingram, which is the largest wholesaler of books in the country."

Bookshop launched less than four months ago with a team of five people. But now it's trying to grow as quickly as possible to meet the demand of self-quarantined readers.

Hunter: "We're making about $30,000 a day for independent bookstores, which is amazing. We thought it would take three years to get to where we are now, and instead, we've gotten there in five or six weeks. 

Bookshop has already raised around $1.5 million for more than 600 bookstores in the U.S., and it's captured over 1% of Amazon's book sales. 

That demand is helped by the fact that its biggest competitor is prioritizing essential goods, like food and medical supplies, over books. 

Beyond Bookshop, the company's distributor Ingram is also expanding its inventory and Direct To Home program — another platform that lets booksellers ship directly to customers.

Hunter: "I just hope it keeps up. I hope that even after every store reopens and after Amazon gets back to shipping books on time, that these customers keep supporting their local stores when they buy books online."