Bookshop.org, the ethical book-buying alternative to Amazon, has now generated £2 million in profit since its launch for the 500 independent bookshops using the platform, reaching the second million in less than ten months.
Navigating a challenging year, from national lockdowns to cancelled author events, independent booksellers continued to prove resourceful, creative and resilient throughout 2021, with sales booming around the Christmas period both in their physical shops and online, which reflected on Bookshop.org.
Between Black Friday and the end of the year, the book sales on the platform amounted to £1 million, with over 2,500 orders using the newly-launched gift wrapping service and with almost 1,000 gift cards sold in just over a month.
Bookshop.org customers have now generated over £2 million in profit for indies, with 55% of the total profit being distributed to bookshops in customer-designated commissions, and 45% being shared equally among all participating bookshops as part of a shared profit pool, irrespective of their level of activity on the site.
A significant portion of the shared pool is generated by the website’s affiliate programme, which encourages anyone in the book world (publishers, authors, book bloggers, media, individuals) to sell books through Bookshop.org for an industry-leading 10% commission and a matching 10% contribution to the profit pool. This allows anyone sharing books online to support indie bookshops.
Independent booksellers are vocal about how commission from Bookshop.org supported their in-shop efforts by bringing in incremental financial revenue, ensuring their physical businesses were able to keep going even through hard times.
Hugh Davies from Paper-works* Books and Prints in Lowestoft said: “Paper-Works* Books and Print opened at the end of 2020, and the Bookshop.org commissions we receive are fundamental to supporting our tiny community bookshop.”
Angela Makey from Niche Comics Bookshop in Huntingdon said: “The commission earned from Bookshop.org has provided welcome additional financial support during the pandemic. In addition, we have been able to use the money to add more display shelves at Niche Comics, and also run Open Mic Poetry events in the shop.”
Karen Walker from The Blue House Bookshop in York said: “The Blue House Bookshop only opened at the end of 2019, and at the start of 2021 Bookshop.org proved a life-saver whilst we endured lockdown as a new entrant into the industry.”
Among the books that have generated the most money for independent bookshops last year, proving the “Indie Champions” for 2021, are: Booker Prize winner for 2020 Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart; The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse by much-loved author and illustrator Charlie Mackesy; Poor by Caleb Femi, winner of the Forward Prize for Poetry for 2021; the moving memoir and instant Sunday Times best-seller A Promised Land by Barack Obama; Flavour by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ixta Belfrage, and more.
Douglas Stuart said: “I am thrilled to see Shuggie Bain among the Indie Champions for 2021. Over the last year, Bookshop.org has done so much to support indie bookshops, and it is these local bookshops who keep people reading in our communities and jobs on our high streets. I am glad to be able to support them in any way I can.”
Booksellers are already looking ahead to exciting titles that are coming up in 2022, and have started to put together their book recommendations in a series of lists hosted on Bookshop.org, as the website allows booksellers to curate and share book lists with their customers, enabling them to meet their next great read thanks to a book expert as opposed to an algorithm.
The indies’ highlights for 2022 include: the debut novel Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson; the quirky mystery novel The Maid by Nita Prose; the children’s debut Jummy at the River School by Sabine Adeyinka; the second novel of Booker Prize winner Douglas Stuart, Young Mungo; The Celts, a compelling history of Anglo-Celtic relations by Simon Jenkins; and The Love Songs of W. E. B. Du Bois by American poet Honorée Fanonne Jeffers.
Nicole Vanderbilt, Managing Director of Bookshop.org UK, said: “We believe readers should go into an indie bookshop whenever they can – there is simply nothing else like it, but when they can’t, there is a better way to buy books online. By choosing Bookshop.org for their holiday book shopping, readers have generated over £2 million in incremental profit for these amazing independent bookshops. This is a testament to the fact that there’s a place for ethical shopping in online book-buying. We are looking forward to supporting independent booksellers throughout 2022 and to help them get great titles in the hands of their customers.”
Meryl Halls, Managing Director of The Booksellers Association, said: “This £2m milestone is a remarkable achievement by Bookshop.org and the booksellers who use the platform. Bookshop.org has proven itself a true friend to independent booksellers over its first year, and is a genuine alternative to Amazon for those book-buyers who want to support indie bookshops online, often from a distance and often in pursuit of a more ethical shopping decision. We know the positive impacts of the income generated by Bookshop.org for some of our smaller booksellers, and it’s been a welcome lifeline for many, used in conjunction, often, with the bookshop’s own ecommerce offer. We congratulate the team at Bookshop.org on this significant achievement.”