Amazon reigns supreme when it comes to its Affiliate program. You see it all over the internet, with websites—like our Geek Travel Guide—using it to earn a little extra money from product links.
Now there’s a new affiliate program just for books, and it’s not from Amazon. Andy Hunter, a familiar face in the publishing industry, recently created Bookshop.org, a website that functions sort of like the Amazon Affiliate program. But instead, it generates profits for indie bookstores.
Why Use Bookshop.org?
If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve probably been worried about the fate of indie bookstores for a while. As Amazon expands, we’ve seen more and more brick and mortar shops—not just of the literary variety—closing down. Bookshop.org may be able to save them.
It works a lot like the Amazon Affiliate program in that you include links on your website or blog that lead to books from your chosen indie bookstore. Also, where Amazon’s affiliate commission stands at 4.5%, Bookshop.org’s is more than double at 10%.
But beyond the particulars of how to use the program, what does this mean for indie bookstores?
It can help them survive.
As we’ve feared, our favorite indie bookstores shutting down at some untold point in the future, Bookshop.org directs people where we need them. This program will allow book bloggers, book reviewers, publishers, and other bookish people to actively steer traffic toward the bookstores that partner with Bookshop.org.
Many shoppers look to Amazon for great deals on books. I won’t pretend I’ve never been one of them. But as I’ve found out about the harm they do to publishers, authors, and others in the book community, I’ve started seeking alternative options.
Most people think of indie bookstore prices as too high, their locations too inconvenient, or their services not quite as speedy as Amazon’s. Bookshop.org challenges those assumptions as it supports indie bookshops and makes buying from them convenient for you.
You don’t have to leave your house. You don’t even have to type a URL. Just click their links when they’re recommended by a book blogger or favorite website. (Geek Travel Guide isn’t there yet, but we plan to apply!)
You just need to want to support indie bookshops, whether they’re your local one down the street or a huge, nationally recognized one.
Why Do We Need Indie Bookstores?
Indie bookstores are more than just another place to buy books. They’re part of our communities, and they’re communities all their own. Each one is unique and offers something special, whether it’s their events, their expansive YA section, or their friendly staff. We don’t want to lose them, and as Amazon grows, that becomes a greater danger.
Bookshop.org can turn even a small percentage of the traffic that would otherwise go to Amazon to indie bookshops that deserve it. Your dollar means more to them, I promise.
It’s not just about varying the market (though the dangers of having only one source for any given thing is a conversation for another time). It’s about supporting authors, publishers, and the people you see every day. It’s about connection and relationships you can’t get when the Amazon van pulls up to your house and takes a picture of the package they drop on your doorstep.
Bookshop.org’s affiliate program has support from the American Booksellers Association (ABA) and over 200 indie bookstores already. Ask yours if they’ve signed up yet, and encourage them to participate. The advantages of the program extend to every person who uses it.
What do you think about Bookshop.org? Do you know someone who should use it for their website? Let them know, and tell us in the comments!