Is Bookshop.org a better site to buy books on than Amazon.com? Today's post compares the two booksellers on selection, title price, and affiliate commission for content creators.
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.org
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.
🥇 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
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.
🤷 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.