Bookshop sold $51 million worth of books in 2020, it first year of operation, and has about 1,027 stores on the platform and 1,083 stores in our profit-sharing pool, founder Andy Hunter told PW. "We've earned $10,162,000 for bookstores this year, including direct store sales and our profit pool. Our next profit pool distribution will happen in January, when we'll distribute over $2 million to stores."
Bookshop launched in January with the intention of offering independent bookstores an improved online commerce hub that will help them woo customers away from Amazon. The timing couldn’t have been better. Sales jumped when Amazon cut book orders early in the pandemic, and many bookstores turned to Bookshop after they were forced to rely on online sales following pandemic-related lockdowns. Profits from sales at Bookshop support expansion of the site, including abroad, and are funneled back to affiliate independent bookstores. Bookshop's U.K. site, which opened for business on November 2, has sold £4 million in books.
Asked if he thought sales could continue at this pace or was it an aberration due to the pandemic boosting and accelerating growth, Hunter replied, "We expect sales to keep growing. Online book sales are a huge business and Amazon still controls nearly all of it. There's so much room for indies to grow. Bookshop's sales have been strong and Indiecommerce sales are up 680% over 2019, according to the ABA. We're participating in an overall consumer awakening. We want to capitalize on that momentum, spreading the message to support local businesses and keep bookstores a vital part of their communities. We need to grow the size of the ecommerce channel for indie bookstores across the board, whether they use Bookshop, Indiecommerce, or both."
Plans for the new year include numerous incremental improvements, according to Hunter, from SEO to adding more digital marketing tools. "We will start adding social features like reviews and to-read piles," he said. The company is also forming a bookseller advisory board "to ensure that we're always acting in the best interests of the indie bookstore community," said Hunter.
Libro sees gains
Digital audiobook sales through indies also saw strong gains last year. Libro.fm reported a 200% increase in units sold and a 213% increase in listeners in 2020 over 2019. Throughout the year the audio bookseller increased its catalog by 51%, adding 71,000 audiobooks, bringing the total number of titles available to 215,000.
The number of bookstores offering the service is 1,321, a 48% increase. The company also saw the number of new monthly subscribers rise by 202% in 2020 from 2019. The bestselling audiobook for the year was, unsurprisingly Barack Obama's A Promised Land, followed by Isabel Wilkderson's Caste: The Origins of our Discontents.