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Book Miracle: Gutsy Upstart Aims to Resuscitate Amazon’s Original Targets of Destruction

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Photo / Monique Ly

Amazon represents a New Normal but Not Everybody is Happy with That

From a consumer perspective it’s hard to argue with buying things at a very low price, often, in the case of books, below wholesale and with ridiculously fast free shipping. But who is paying for this? Mainly, it’s complicated, but it has traditionally been people and companies that sold books before the existence of Amazon, later known as the grim reaper, destroyed their businesses and livelihoods.

Recently, deep inside the Amazon system the rot is starting to show. Just as a camel is unlikely to pass through the eye of a needle, you don’t get to be a trillion dollar eCommerce retail giant without some internal corruption. A lot of internal corruption. Who knows? …as a customer, you might even encounter expired lemon curd or a used diaper along the way.

Compare this to Apple, a company that charges a premium for the best products and service. And for the caché of being part of a greater whole that stands for something other than “the cheapest no matter what”. Not without soiled hands perhaps, but on the other end of the spectrum from winning by selling at impossible prices. Instead it is a company known for building a brand that stands for quality, luxury and innovation above all.

Somewhere, on the good-guy side yet between these diametrically opposed behemoths now stands a new, tiny, alternative for the book world: Bookshop.Org

A Formula that just might Work, as People Gradually Realize that a Monopsony is Just as bad as a Monopoly

The ORG is important as it signals the true fact that this is a company with a purpose beyond profit and that it is a cooperative venture in nature. The site is founded as a bet that true Booklovers can be persuaded forego a few dollars of artificial price reduction to support a better entity, and still get a premium product and experience.

Bookshop.org is registered as a B-Corp and therefore pledged to place social good ahead of profit. Since profits are predivirted to help independent booksellers, authors and others that choose to affiliate, profits are limited inherently in the business model.

The idea that the thought content of the books themselves can bind together producer, seller and reader, along with the sharing of an affinity towards authors and ideas, is something that has been all but lost, after the decimation of bookstores of all kinds in the wake of the Amazon explosion.

This is also true of other product categories, say, consumer electronics, but books and bookstores were the first target for extermination, thus the experience of sharing a like-minded love of books with a store that will provide them is now, truly, an all but extinct concept.

Created to help those independent book sellers across the country that have survived in spite of the “success” of the below-cost dumping strategy employed by the “Death Star”, Bookshop.org is an alliance that includes the American Booksellers Association as well as the largest book distributer in the US, assuring a vast current selection and an established fulfillment network.

Communicating the value of opting out of the status quo will fall on the booksellers and new partners that join the Bookshop in its quest. By the way, you too can contribute and become an affiliate member at no cost, for example if you are and Author or an Influencer, or if your blog can send potential book buyers to the site.

Finally, For Booklovers who Love Booklovers a site that Loves Indie Booksellers

John Warner of the Chicago Tribune has likened the endeavor to the Starwars Rebel Alliance fighting against Amazon’s Death Star, and the analogy is certainly apt. However, this is more about the option to inhabit a world where there is a book buying choice beyond the obvious and ubiquitous.

Where, in an Amazon world, is it possible to choose an experience that is, in a sense, also an investment in dignity and diversity, and who better to make such an unique choice than the well-read Booklover?

Ammunition on the supplier side is a commission, more like a stipend really, of approximately double the amount a seller receives if they send buyers to Amazon (known as an affiliate commission and attached to virtually all offers across the web), with the extra bit paid for by not being an only for-profit entity. That’s high concept if ever there was.

For a detailed breakdown of the site’s concept and financial structure you can go directly to Bookshop or read Joan Verdon’s excellent article in Forbes.

So, while the richest man on planet earth pays hundreds of million$ to PHDs to come up with new ways to destroy existing competitors – even those that pose no threat whatsoever, you can side-step all that noise and chose to be Hans Solo, reluctant but ultimately heroic, and support the people who love books more than just money.

If you see Lynxotic book reviews, from now on, they will likely have a link to an offer to buy from our Bookshop.org independent bookstore partner cherrybooks who, yes, will reap a small but meaningful reward for joining the cause.

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