Bookshop vs Amazon: Battle of the Bookstores (Updated 2024)

by | Last updated Jan 2, 2024 | Travel Bloggers, Travel Buyer Guides | 0 comments

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Is a better site to buy books on than Today's post compares the two booksellers on selection, title price, and affiliate commission for content creators. This post was originally published in Nov 2020 and has been updated in Jan 2024.

A few months ago, with the help of the Travel is Life Creators community, I created a list of Amazon Associate Program Alternatives for travel bloggers. The purpose of that list was to help travel bloggers replace their Amazon affiliate links with suitable alternatives that pay equal or higher commissions.

Several bloggers from our community suggested adding Bookshop to the list — which I did.

📚 Enter:

Bookshop is an online bookstore with a mission to financially support local, independent bookstores. It launched in January 2020, and they still consider their platform and software to be in Beta mode — which means they're still working out the kinks.

However despite being a startup, and launching RIGHT before the pandemic, they're making a big splash in the online world of book sellers — being spoken about as a David who could take on Goliath.

Bookshop's model supports independent book sellers with profit sharing AND it pays a higher commission to affiliates (10% versus Amazon's 4.5%). A win-win for independent bookstores and for bloggers.

Bookshop Homepage

🥇 But is it a win-win-win? The third “win” being for our readers.

Short Term: Maybe not, if you consider paying the lowest price available today a “win” for your readers. I found that Bookshop is 40% more expensive on average per title than Amazon. Maybe so, if you feel that spending a little extra to support local independent bookstores is worth the cost.

Long Term: Maybe so, if you consider the fact that without competition and continuing to go uncontested online, Amazon is eventually going to finish the job that B&N and Borders started of putting all local bookstores out of business. And without competition, they could charge whatever they want. Maybe not, if you feel that saving money now is a better long term benefit for your readers.

These are important thing to consider when shopping for books online or affiliate linking to books on your blog. Do you want your reader to get the best possible price? Support local independent bookstores? Or pad your pocket with a higher commission? Doing all three might not always be possible.

⭐ 50 Best Selling Titles Compared

Amazon Best Sellers vs Bookshop

Ever since learning about Bookshop, I've wanted to do a price comparison between them and Amazon to see if their book titles were competitively priced to one another. So recently I took the Top 50 Best Selling Titles on Amazon and compared their sale price on Bookshop.

If there was a difference between the retail price and sale price of a new book, I went with lowest sale price to keep it fair for either shop, because sometimes books are perpetually on sale. This was just a sample study to compare 50 best selling titles at the same moment in time. You'll obviously get different results if you recreated this study at a later date depending on which books you selected and when you checked their prices. However I felt that 50 best sellers were a large enough sample size for my purposes.

For your quick reference, at the time of writing this, here's the #1 Best Seller book in the Travel category for your comparison on Amazon and on Bookshop. These are widgets so the prices are dynamic (meaning they might be different by the time you see this post then when I published it).

Buy it on Amazon:

Buy it on Bookshop:

 💡 What I discovered is that:

  • Bookshop only beat Amazon on price 4 times by an average 22%.
  • Amazon beat Bookshop on price 45 times by an average of 48%.
  • There was only 1 instance where Amazon carried a book that Bookshop did not. I found this surprising as a new startup. I expected more instances. Perhaps if I got outside the Best Sellers there would be.
  • View this Google Spreadsheet if you'd like to see the 50 books I compared and their prices at the time of comparison.

📅 Is that still the case in 2024?

A reader named Nathaniel wrote me yesterday and asked, “Have you learned more since or ever followed up since then on same pricing issue to learn if Amazon is still beating Bookshop so badly? Anyone report on such you know of & can point to a link to read follow up?”

So I decided to do a follow-up in 2024. Once again, I compared the 50 best selling titles on Amazon and compared the lowest prices on Amazon and Bookshop. Here are the updated results in 2024: 

  • Bookshop beat Amazon on price 0 times.
  • Amazon beat Bookshop on price 48 times by an average of 58%.
  • There were 2 instances where Amazon carried a book that Bookshop did not.
  • The price discrepancy between Bookshop and Amazon actually went up by 10% on average in the past three years. And that's not taking shipping into consideration, which Amazon obviously beats most every retailer on, especially if you're a Prime member.
  • View the Google Spreadsheet link above if you'd like to see the 50 books I compared this time around and their prices at the time of comparison. (Click the second sheet entitled “Top 50 – 2024”)

So there you have it, Nathaniel! Thanks for your motivation to update this post several years later. 

Unfortunately the price battle between Amazon and Bookshop hasn't gotten any better for Bookshop, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't support them. You'll just have to weigh the pros and cons I mentioned above. 

🤷 What are your thoughts?

As a customer, would you rather pay more for books and support local independent bookstores as well as your favorite online content creators? Or do you prefer to get the best price?

As a content creator, should you point your readers towards a website that does the most good or offers the best price? Or should you link to both and give them the option?

Drop a comment below and share your thoughts about shopping / linking to Bookshop vs Amazon.


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Paul @ Travel is Life

Paul @ Travel is Life

Hey it's Paul Drecksler the founder of Travel is Life. Thank you for being here (wherever you are). Be sure to join my Friends List for some exciting things coming soon on this website. If you're a travel blogger, vlogger, or photographer, join our Travel is Life Creators community. Happy travels!