So, this week a super cool new thing launched into the book loving ether. That thing is bookshop.org.
What? Another website to memorize? WHYYY?
Yeah. We get it. But here is what is cool about Bookshop and why you SHOULD care.
First and foremost, the best way you can support your local indie bookstore is to order from them direct. They have very tight margins as it is, and this is the best way to support them.
However, when it comes to Bookshop.org...
Indie bookstores that are affiliates are supported by this venture in a few ways.
First, if you were to order a book via https://bookshop.org/shop/volumesbooks - you would not only get a book shipped right to your home, but that sale supports us as an independent bookstore.
Even if you just bought from bookshop.org as a WHOLE (not using our bookstore affiliate page) we would still get some financial backing at some point. A small amount, but it is something. If you live all over the place and want to support ALL of the bookstores, you can certainly just do the basic bookshop, and they'll each get a little wink from you for every book you buy. It is not the same as buying direct, but if it means you aren't supporting A*zon (who among many evil doings, supports ICE, uses your data as currency, and generally is trying to take down the world around you with every click of a button) and that is important for the future of your community as a whole. That is a whole separate conversation that we are HAPPY to have at any time.
Authors can really get a decent amount for the books THEY WROTE.
People often think authors must be millionaires because they were "best sellers."
Spolier alert: That is NOT true at ALL.
Authors only receive a very small % of each book sold, AND they only receive that amount AFTER the book they made has exceeded the money they were given up front.
Say an author was paid $1000 before publication (note, not all authors get advances). Their book is listed at $19.99 (weird number that is not normal at all, but bear with me). They're likely only getting ~ $1-$2 per copy. IF THAT (honestly probably less). So, first they have to sell a thousand copies before they would start making any EXTRA money. And, that was a poor example, because some authors, after years of work, might get $10,000. Then it takes 10,000 or more copies to pay back that payment. Then they get $1 or so per copy after. So, that "best seller" that sold a million copies? Maybe they made 100k. Likely not after all is said and done. And, they probably worked on it for several years. After taxes, they maybe made 15-20k per year? If their book was heavily discounted on A*zon, then they possibly made even LESS per copy. So, if you all bought their book from B*zos, your fav author might not actually get much for that. In the case of Kindle books, for instance - see here Partly, also because A*zon made it so that secondhand sellers of the book might actually be the entity you are purchasing from. Authors are in a sort of crisis right now, as are publishers, and publisher are pushing this crisis of $ down to authors, making things more bleak. Less that .05% of authors could actually make an actual LIVING on writing alone. That is INSANE considering how much work is being produced. INSANE. We love authors. We want them to write more awesome stuff.
Through Bookshop.org, authors can set up their own affiliate link - and no matter what, they are getting 10% EXTRA for every book they sell. That is a BIG deal. BIG. Maybe they can stop working ten jobs. BIG. They would get that small % from their publisher AND a % from bookshop. That is a really awesome deal for authors. So, if an author has a new book out, or maybe even an old one, see if they have a bookshop page. You can support their efforts in a more direct way. Cool, right?
So, are we converting all things to Bookshop? Absolutely not. 90% of our web orders are for our community that wants books and supports what we do for the community. Bookshop offers something a little extra. Maybe we run a pre-order campaign through them. We make less, sure, but we know all shipping and such is handled by someone else when we are busy making sure your kids don't run outside after storytime and that our favorite birding enthusiasts have their favorite books on order. We can spend time with school orders and scheduling incredible authors to come to meet YOU. We can spend time with our community book swaps and Waldo hunts, open mics, community meetings and currently helping to plan the future of Wicker Park's literary and arts future.
Bookshop isn't a savior, but it can help in a number of ways. It isn't replacing our web ordering or our ordering as a whole.
We suggest bookmarking it.
We suggest breaking up with Jeff B*zos when it comes to books. You have options. More importantly, you have options that directly affect the streets you walk down, the neighbors you interact with, the economy of the space in which you live as a whole. YOU, dear consumer, have a lot of power. The bookstore world is just giving you better ways to use it.