More than a dozen out-of-work booksellers in New York City have launched The Bookstore at the End of the World on Bookshop.org., the recently launched online bookstore. Bookshop.org allows bookstores, media and other book advocates to create an affiliate bookstore on the site, with lists of curated books, and earn 30% of cover price on any sale.
Bookshop.org was established to help raise money for indie bookstores and give shoppers an alternative to buying books from Amazon.com. It launched in beta in February and maintains a running ticker of the amount of money it has earned for independent bookstores, which as of Wednesday morning, was nearing $100,000.
The project was spearheaded by Jeff Waxman, freelance publicist and bookseller at WORD bookstore in Brooklyn, who has since recruited laid off employees from New York-area bookstores, including Book Culture, McNally Jackson Bookstore, The Strand, and WORD, to participate. "Technically, I wasn't laid off," quipped Waxman, "but my hours dried up."
Waxman credits Paige Lipari of Archestratus, a cookbook store in Brooklyn and Brad Johnson, owner of East Bay Booksellers in Oakland, Calif. for providing the inspiration and the idea itself. "We wanted to find a way to help booksellers who had lost their jobs," said Waxman, who had provided copywriting services to the fledgling online store. "With so many bookstores closed, business was booming at Bookshop,org. We thought this was good for both recently laid off booksellers, who could share their exquisite taste in books and make money doing what they do best, and for book lovers who want to help booksellers from their local community."
The hope is to try and inspire out-of-work booksellers from other cities and regions to band together and launch their own bookstores on Bookshop.org. "It would be great if this became a movement," said Waxman. "So many booksellers are out of work and feeling really vulnerable now, that every bit of money they can earn helps until they can get back to work full time and we come out the other side of this crisis."