Bookshop vs Amazon April 10, 2020 9:49 AM   Subscribe

Hey, have we thought about switching up our affiliate links (at least for books) from Amazon to Bookshop? It’s apparently a platform for indie bookshops set up specifically to keep them afloat and to break Amazon’s stranglehold over online book purchases.

Bookshop is designed for generating affiliate revenue. Our team is working to build a network of publishers, authors, bookstagrammers, celebrity book clubs, and other media sites to target socially-conscious online consumers who are not yet buying their books online through an independent bookstore.

- It’s a B-Corp and supports indie bookstores and it isn’t Amazon, so almost certainly more in line with MeFi’s moral compass (at least until a couple of years down the line, when we find out that they’ve sold out to a PE consortium led by Northrop Grumman or whatever);
- More affiliate cash (10.0% vs 4.5% for Amazon);
- Seems to be on the level, with big affiliates already (NYT, Slate and Vox per the insidehook article)
- Presumably can be achieved at relatively low cost and posters could link to whichever they prefer / we could always switch back to Amazon.


- The affiliate scheme is kind of complex? I don’t know anything about affiliate marketing but it’s explained in their FAQ for anyone who does. I don’t really get the pool part, although it sounds great?;
- Currently don’t ship internationally (although I always use Amazon dot com links on here anyway, rather than a local site, and Bookshop apparently intends to add this functionality anyway);
- Don’t do ebooks, audiobooks, secondhand books, store merch, etc (although again, they apparently intend to);
- Don’t sell cookware and electronics and shoes and so on, although of course we still have Amazon;
- Possibly more expensive than Amazon and less convenient for Mefites with Prime;
- Probably a load of other things that haven’t occurred to me.

Is this something worth experimenting with?
posted by chappell, ambrose to Feature Requests at 9:49 AM (16 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

I've seen it mentioned in passing in a couple places but haven't read up on it yet; it's certainly something we can take a closer look at, to see what would be involved in implementation and management of the affiliate stuff. That probably the bulk of Amazon links that appear on MeFi aren't to books does make this more of a supplement than a replacement in terms of how I'd have to look practically at affiliate income right now; Amazon accounts for less of our monthly income than it did a few years ago, but for all that it's still probably 10% of our recurring revenue.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:51 AM on April 10, 2020 [3 favorites]

(I only realised while writing up the post that Bookshop wouldn’t replace Amazon, because Mefites can link to whoever they feel like and you’re presumably allowed to be in multiple affiliate schemes at the same time.

And I only realised after hitting the button that therefore I probably should have framed the whole thing less antagonistically - it would presumably be an alternative that individual Mefites could choose to use if we signed up as a site and they were aware of it.

And now I see that cortex has said essentially the same thing.)
posted by chappell, ambrose at 9:56 AM on April 10, 2020 [2 favorites]

This is only loosely related, but seems to have a similar service for audiobooks, where you can choose which local bookstore gets money. Nice to have an alternative from Audible. You also keep the books as mp3s and their pricing seems about the same as Audible, with similar selection.
posted by Telf at 1:01 PM on April 10, 2020 [3 favorites]

I vote for this!
posted by Sheydem-tants at 2:06 PM on April 10, 2020

I think the biggest drawback is that you have to pay shipping, and shipping even on standard delivery is kind of an ugly surprise if you're used to Prime. The fact that you have to pay a few bucks for shipping to get a book even 7 to 10 days from now, and you have to pay more than the price of the book for faster shipping is going to make it difficult for them to compete with Amazon once the crisis is over and Amazon resumes shipping books free to Prime users in 24 to 48 hours.

I like the fact that it's a not-Amazon, but ultimately I think it'll fold. Amazon has gotten to the point where really we ought to nationalize it because it's so damn big and useful but also so abusive and monopolistic if it's allowed to be a for profit company.
posted by sotonohito at 4:48 PM on April 10, 2020 [4 favorites]

Even replacing the books linked to amazon with links to this would be problematic because Metafilter probably makes more money indirectly (I click on a link to "Catch-22", buy the book, and also buy a $400 barbecue grill while I'm there) than directly.
posted by mmoncur at 5:00 AM on April 11, 2020 [4 favorites]

I understand the desire to move away from Amazon, but you also have to realise that 67% of Amazon's operating income comes from AWS, and who runs on AWS: Metafilter. We can't win.

If you want to nationalise something to level the playing field, I think it should be AWS not the Amazon web store.
posted by Lanark at 6:01 AM on April 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

I don't understand what's novel about bookshop. Is it significantly different from alibris and others?
posted by derbyshire at 11:09 AM on April 12, 2020

As an also-ran pony, I buy a lot of kindle books I see recommended on the site, and increasingly people do not give the Amazon link. I need to buy from Amazon because of where I live, and it annoys me that I can't give the money to MetaFilter for the affiliate click because MF deserves it even if Amazon doesn't. I wonder if we could get an etiquette of providing both the Amazon and the GoodReads link for folks like me.

Or is there a way to get an affiliate link even if I'm going via GR?
posted by frumiousb at 9:57 PM on April 12, 2020

I'm remembering some author/writing teacher chattering about how for him and colleagues, when he puts out an amazon affiliate link, people actually buy stuff and he gets a chunk of change, whereas for non-amazon links, readers end up not buying stuff.

If this is the case, metafilter would end up making less money.

(I'm not happy Amazon's in a dominant position, either, but ...)
posted by sebastienbailard at 11:16 PM on April 12, 2020

This is a bit of a tangent, but for anyone interested, is a handy site for looking up books and places to order them.
posted by adamrice at 7:13 AM on April 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

Thanks, worth a try! I respect that people prefer not to advertise Amazon, but for me they are the only game in town.
posted by frumiousb at 8:16 PM on April 13, 2020

I am all for businesses that try to break Amazon up. However, I do not want to mess with 10% of Metafilter's revenue and I would have no issue with the site declining to use this alternative based on this reason alone.
posted by like_neon at 6:16 AM on April 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

As far as I know, it's not an issue of accepting or declining this as an alternative. People post links to the sources they want to link to. If it's an Amazon link, MeFi adds a referral code to the URL and gets an affiliate bonus. If it's not, the affiliate code doesn't get added. But MeFi isn't scanning what sites people link to and forcibly redirecting them.
posted by Lexica at 9:40 AM on April 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

I don't understand what's novel about bookshop. Is it significantly different from alibris and others?

Here's the FPP about Bookshop with some explanatory links
posted by tofu_crouton at 12:06 PM on April 14, 2020

Amazon just cut affiliate rates.
posted by Violet Hour at 10:31 PM on April 14, 2020 [2 favorites]

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