Last week I was in the small town of Oswestry for half-term. As a family, we spent a fair amount of time in the local bookshop, Booka, mostly in the children’s section. My daughter in particular has inherited the bookworm gene, picked more books than I was prepared to pay for, and ended up buying them with her own pocket money. She will go far.
Booka is a wonderful and welcoming local bookshop, and such things are an endangered species. Back here in Luton, a town of over 200,000 people, there isn’t a bookshop to be found. The two of them that were in the town centre when we moved here ten years ago have both surrendered to the unstoppable force of online retail and closed.
We all know why, and none of us want another lecture on the evils of Amazon, the $1.5 trillion behemoth that still somehow can’t afford to pay its taxes or a living wage. What we do want is an alternative, because there’s no question that Amazon does what it does very well. Can we have online books sales and still have local bookshops?
That’s what Bookshop.org has set out to do. Launching in the US last year and in the UK today, Bookshop is specifically designed to benefit bookstores and challenge Amazon. As a B-Corporation committed to the public good, they will be giving away 75% of their profits to participating bookstores.
“We believe that bookshops are essential to a healthy culture” they say. “They’re where authors can connect with readers, where we discover new writers, where children get hooked on the thrill of reading that can last a lifetime. They’re also anchors for our high streets and communities. As more and more people buy their books online, we wanted to create an easy, convenient way for you to get your books and support bookshops at the same time.”
Bookshop also has an affiliate programme that allows people to create their own online bookshops, so obviously I’ve done that and I’ve been patiently waiting for the UK launch date to tell you about it. Earthbound Books has a UK store and a US store, featuring all the recently reviewed titles, along with lists of recommended books from me on a variety of different topics, including fiction.
I hope you like it. As it’s an improvement on Hive, I’ll be making it my default book sales platform. And since it’s on both sides of the Atlantic, I can drop the Amazon affiliate links. You’ll find links to Earthbound Books on book reviews and in the menu above.