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Why AALBC.com Does Not Support Bookshop.org


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I was in a meeting with some booksellers last night and some were surprised that AALBC.com is not a fan of Bookshop dot org.  It felt just like the reaction I got from people regarding my feelings about Amazon when I began to express them years ago.


People could not understand my aversion to Amazon initially, but today, most people get it. Bookshp is Amazon all over again.


Read the article in Publisher Weekly (and the comments) for some insight;


"ABA Relationship with Bookshop Draws Booksellers’ Scrutiny"



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It just occurred to I never deleted my Bookshop page.  I went to bookshop to delete it and realized  you can't do it on your own.  I guess they never figured anyone would ever want to delete their page.  I emailed support requesting that they remove my page on their website.


In the meantime I updated my page to indicate that I'm boycotting their business.  Let see how long it takes them to delete the page now 

https://bookshop.org/shop/aalbc   😉


I just did some more research into bookshop and discovered the state of Black-owned bookstore ecommerce is atrocious.  The dependence we have on Bookshop is depressing.


Many of the Black-owned stores including the ones getting the most attention in the media don't operate ecommerce sites -- bookshop is their website!  These websites share precious sales figures and customer data.  These sites also completely give up on advertising revenue which for a popular website can easily exceed book revenue. 


I get it, it took 2 decades for AALBC to ween itself off of Amazon's teat, wasting precious years of lost revenue. 


Sure bookshop gives these stores 30% on each sale -- which is almost as much as what a store would make if they, did all the work and fulfilled the books orders  themselves, so we know the 30% share will not stand very long.  Like Amazon taking a loss on the way to building a monopoly is a winning strategy.


Like Amazon they will continue this until they taken control of ecommerce for indie booksellers.  The only difference is rather than taking the loss with the consumer on low prices, bookshop shop is taking the loss with the Bookstore on the affiliate commission. 


With Amazon the consumer was happy with the low prices, but the booksellers were pissed.  With Bookshop the bookstores are happy (save the ones who can see the con) with the high revenues AND the consumers are also happy believing they are supporting indie bookstores.


By the time some independent bookstore wise up Bookshop's hustle they will have made Bookshop dominant and it will be too late to do anything meaningful on the web. 


It is not enough just to not use these sites.  You have to be "anti-Bookshop" and "anti-Amazon."


More to come...





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Bookshop deleted my page and noticed my commentary. They took issue with it, obviously, and sent me this comment among other things;


"We are determined to be a socially-conscious alternative to Amazon and we will not stop improving our platform to make it better and better for our patrons, our booksellers, and all of our affiliates." 


I replied;


"I’m sure you personally believe Bookshop.org is supportive of indie booksellers, but as someone who has been selling books, independently on the web, for almost 25 years I can tell you Bookshop is not supportive of AALBC.com or any other indie online bookseller – that much should be plain.  If I’m wrong; explain to me what I’m missing.  


Bookshop’s goal, based upon behavior (not public statements) is to become the ecommerce platform for brick and mortar stores.  This fosters dependence – not independence.  As bookshop’s dominance continues variety on the web will be diminished as online book sales coalesce under the control of two sellers Amazon and bookshop."


This short video describes just one way Bookshop.org is undermining booksellers -- especially web-based booksellers -- like AALBC as they continue their march to become the ecommerce platform for every brick and mortar store.  It is the "socially conscious alternative to Amazon" that I profoundly reject, because it is bullshit.  Bookshop.org wants to dominate book sales on the web, just like Amazon before them.


Trust me if Bookshop.org demonstrated any support of online booksellers I would be making better use of my time.  Bookshop poses an existential threat to booksellers on the web -- Black booksellers in particular.


Now Bookshop.org can do what they want to do. How we, as Black people who care about our book platforms, react is what matters most.




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On 11/6/2020 at 9:33 PM, Troy said:

In the meantime I updated my page to indicate that I'm boycotting their business.  Let see how long it takes them to delete the page now 


This is an excellent move!  I've been on a few websites that wouldn't let me self-delete - and I've changed the copy - but never did I think to use the opportunity to protest! Bravo!!!

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Hey @Mel Hopkins yeah sites that do that are a real pain.  Bookshop did delete my account the very next business day. 


I decided not to pursue an additional offensives against Bookshp.org.  As I implied earlier my time can be better spent focusing on AALBC.  I could have had my affiliate program setup now were it not for me expending energy countering  Bookshop.org


AALBC has weathered many challenges I'll weather this one too.  I'm not even going to share the video beyond posting it here. 

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  • 7 months later...



Thank you for making your argument so clearly. The owner came to IBPA touting the website.

I looked at it, but I wasn't interested in steering readers away from my website and I am not interested in Ingram.


So wonderful that you are supportive of Black bookstores as a whole, not just your own.

This is what social action on the part of the community means.


My hat's off to you. Bravo.

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Just week I sent a number of emails to the leadership of the American Booksellers Association, telling them that needed to be more nuanced in how they describe Bookshop.org’s support of independent booksellers, for they were not supportive of booksellers like AALBC. 

This ultimately lead to a conference call with Bookshop.org’s leadership. They ultimately addressed my concerns. They asked me to join their advisory board to insure the issues of sites like AALBC are addresses. 

The issue of Ingram’s virtual monopoly on distribution is another issue. I continue to strategize on this and it is perhaps more challenging.

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