Andy Hunter launched Bookshop.org in January as a platform to help independent bookstores take and fulfill online orders. Shortly afterward, the pandemic forced small businesses to close their physical doors and Bookshop.org found itself trying to manage three years of growth in three months. Andy comes on the show for a deep dive into how his business works, monopoly power in the book industry, and what steps Bookshop is taking to make sure growth and success don’t compromise their mission.
- Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer - 1:27
- "Nevermore, Amazon,"our episode about The Raven Book Store - 2:06
- Andy Hunter on Twitter - 2:44
- Bookshop website | Twitter | Instagram - 2:44
- Catapult | Counterpoint | Soft Skull Press - 3:28
- Lit Hub - 3:32
- Ingram - 6:21
- Certified B Corporation - 9:25
- Politics and Prose Bookstore in Washington, D.C. - 10:18
- Tattered Cover Book Store in Denver, CO - 10:19
- Powell’s Books in Portland, OR - 10:20
- IndieBound - 13:30
- Morgan Entrekin - 15:34
- Libro.fm - 19:37
- Hummingbird Digital Media - 20:16
- "Baker & Taylor to Drop Wholesale Book Distribution to Retailers" - 24:56
- BuzzFeed article about GrubHub collecting fees from restaurants even when customers call to place orders - 26:05
- Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins - 30:23
- Astounding by Alec Nevala-Lee (Wailin's husband) - 30:45
The Full Transcript:
[00:00:00] Anyone You Meet Normcore Remix by Clip Art plays.
Shaun: [00:00:02] Rework is brought to you by Basecamp. Basecamp is the all-in-one toolkit for working remotely. Remote work is especially challenging when stuff’s spread out across emails, file services, task managers, spreadsheets, chats, and meetings. Things get lost, you don’t know where to look for stuff and people put the right information in the wrong place. But when it’s all together in Basecamp, you’ll see where everything is, understand what everyone’s working on, and know exactly where to put the next thing everyone needs to know about. Check it out for yourself at Basecamp.com.
[00:00:36] Broken By Design by Clip Art plays.
Wailin: [00:00:38] Welcome to Rework, a podcast about the better way to work and run your business. I’m Wailin Wong.
Shaun: [00:00:42] And I’m Shaun Hildner. By my count, it’s been 65 days since we closed the Basecamp office and started staying at home, and I really thought with all this time at home, I could get some reading done, but it has not exactly worked out that way. What about you? Have you gone through any books lately?
Wailin: [00:00:58] You know what’s interesting is what you say about thinking that you’re going to get all this reading done and then not being able to, because I’ve actually been hearing that from a lot of people. Like, their brains right now are just not set up to allow them to read a book even though it seems like the perfect staying at home activity.
Shaun: [00:01:14] Yeah.
Wailin: [00:01:15] What I’ve found for myself is that there are certain books I can read, but certain books I absolutely cannot read. For some reason, now looking back, I’m like, I don’t know what I was thinking, but I thought at the beginning of this, I was like, I’m going to read Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer.
Shaun: [00:01:30] Uh-huh, uh-huh.
Wailin: [00:01:30] You know, the novel that the—
Shaun: [00:01:32] Did you just watch the movie instead?
Wailin: [00:01:34] Well, I didn’t watch the movie instead, because the movie really bothered me, like in a good way, but I was like, I can’t. This is not a movie I need to watch again because it was a little traumatizing. So I got a copy of the book and then I started reading it, and I just could not make my brain read it. And then I was like, why am I reading a book literally called Annihilation while we’re in a pandemic? It’s like, this is obviously the wrong choice.
Shaun: [00:01:56] Well, if you’re a regular listener to Rework, you know that we’re big fans of books, independent bookstores, and trying to resist Amazon’s monopoly power. Like last year we did that episode with Danny Caine, do you remember that one?
Wailin: [00:02:07] Yeah, I love that one.
Shaun: [00:02:08] He’s at Raven Book Store in Lawrence, Kansas and he’s been fighting Amazon for years.
Wailin: [00:02:13] When it comes to competing with Amazon, independent bookstores had a pretty formidable challenge even before COVID. And now, with non-essential businesses closed across the country, indies have it even harder. A lot of them were not equipped to go online and just start shipping books to customers. It’s a matter of logistics and infrastructure, but it’s also the very nature of neighborhood bookstores, whose superpower is in making in-person connections through things like author events and personalized recommendations.
Shaun: [00:02:41] That’s where today’s guest comes in. Andy Hunter is the CEO of Bookshop.org. It’s a new company that’s helping independent bookstores get online. They launched right before the pandemic, and as you’ll hear, have been on a wild ride in the last couple of months.
Wailin: [00:02:55] I talked to Andy about how Bookshop works, what it’s been like to build this platform during such a crucial time for the survival of independent bookstores, and what Bookshop is doing to make sure it doesn’t become the thing it’s fighting against.
[00:03:08] Broken By Design by Clip Art plays.
Andy: [00:03:17] My name is Andy Hunter and I’m the CEO and founder of Bookshop.org. I have been in the publishing world for over ten years. I’m a book publisher at Catapult, Counterpoint and Soft Skull Press. I’m also the publisher of Literary Hub which is a big website devoted to books. And I wanted for ten years as Amazon gradually ate the world of books. Just from 2015 to 2019, it grew from 37% of the consumer book market to over 50%. That kind of growth, if you extend it another even three years would decimate the ecosystem, putting all the bookstores that I grew up with, that I love, that are some of my favorite place on earth out of business. And I think it would actually endanger the whole culture around books.
[00:04:09] Bookstores serve an outsized role in books’ role in society and culture. Bookstores are where people discover books and learn to love books as children and they’re also where authors come to meet their audiences and where reading groups and where book clubs meet. There’s about 2,400 bookstores in the country and we want those to stick around and keep doing their great work. And so I was worried about Amazon, and I had spoken to a bunch of booksellers who, frankly, asked me for my help figuring out an e-commerce strategy which would help them better compete with Amazon.
[00:04:45] I spent about six months thinking about it on and off and the idea was to take the whole commerce and fulfillment portion out of the bookstore’s hands because a lot of them don’t have the money to build fancy websites and set up big e-commerce flows and don’t have the resources to pay their staff to pull, pack, ship, fulfill these orders and deal with customer service. And they don’t have the inventory. They’ll never be able to compete with Amazon on inventory. So, a lot of problems with bookstores really competing with Amazon.
[00:05:17] Also, they’re all fragmented. They’re scattered all over the country and even if one of them competes well with Amazon, that doesn’t save the whole group of bookstores that I was looking to help. I had the idea of creating an e-commerce layer between the bookstores and their customers and a wholesaler. And the wholesaler in question is Ingram, which is the largest book wholesaler in the US. And they already do customer-direct fulfillment for Target, for Walmart, for Barnes & Noble.com. So they’re shipping books directly to customers all the time and Bookshop could be a platform that would allow independent bookstores easy access to that wholesaler. The bookstore earns money but doesn’t have to actually touch the book. Doesn’t have to worry about fulfillment, doesn’t have to worry about inventory. Doesn’t have to worry about paying any hosting fees for a website or maintaining it or paying a programmer to build it. All of the things that kept them from really participating with e-commerce and competing with Amazon before are all sort of brushed away by this model.
Wailin: [00:06:19] So you needed buy-in from Ingram as the company that has the dominant position in that link of the chain?
Andy: [00:06:26] Yes. Absolutely. But they bought in very rapidly. It took one presentation. We’ve turned into a really important customer for Ingram in the meantime.
Wailin: [00:06:35] Can you walk me through how this works? How does a bookstore get onto your platform, because you’re not building out an online ordering piece on their website. Folks have to go to Bookshop.org and make their order on Bookshop.org, right? So can you explain how a bookstore gets hooked up with Bookshop.org?
Andy: [00:06:54] There’s a “Become an Affiliate” link in the footer or in our About page, and they can build their shop on Bookshop very easily. It takes about half an hour. About as long as it takes to build a Facebook page for your business. They can create staff picks, reading lists, and they can start selling books immediately. Because it’s been so simple, it’s been really easy for a lot of them go join and we have over 600 stores on the platform now.
Wailin: [00:07:20] And so the path for, then, a bookshopper or a customer would be, I guess I can see it a couple of ways and then you can tell me if I’m missing some pathway. One pathway would be they want to support their local bookstore or a bookstore that they know about that they can’t get to in person, so they go to Bookshop.org and look for that bookstore. Or they’re interested in a title and they go to Bookshop.org and they can search by title. And then can they pick a bookstore that they want that sale to count towards?
Andy: [00:07:50] Yeah, the picking of the bookstore happens first, we have got a bookstore finder in the header where they can just enter their zip code and find all the bookstores around them that use Bookshop and they can select one. In that case, 30% of the cover price goes to the store. Apart from that, people can just go to Bookshop.org and search for a book. In that case, we will donate to a bookseller earnings pool which we distribute evenly among all bookstores, even bookstores that do not use bookshop at all. Stores just have to have a physical location and be members of the American Booksellers Association, and they can get a portion of that which we distribute every six months. Whether or not they use Bookshop, whether they like Bookshop, whether they tell their customers about Bookshop or not, so that’s really supposed to support the entire ecosystem and not just limit our impact to the stores that are using our platform.
Wailin: [00:08:38] Do bookstores that want to participate on Bookshop.org, do they pay you a membership fee of some kind or do they just get a straight commission?
Andy: [00:08:46] They don’t pay us anything. It’s totally free, and in fact, we don’t earn any money off of the books that we sell on their behalf. The 30% commission that we give the bookstores, actually that’s pretty much our entire profit margin. So we’re not making any money off of those sales, and that’s about 65% of our sales. But the sales that people go directly to Bookshop and buy, we do make some money off of and that’s actually enough for us to break even. So we’re happy to pass on all of the revenue to the bookstores that are using our platform because we can survive based on the 35% of sales that are not from bookstore affiliates.
[00:09:25] We’re a B corporation which means that our mission is for the public good, in this case, the public good is the existence of bookstores. So we put our mission before profit. So as long as we’re hitting our bottom line and able to continue to develop the platform and do well, we’re happy to funnel as much money as we possibly can to bookstores.
Wailin: [00:09:47] If a bookstore was going to spin up their own online ordering operation, their profit margin would be higher but you come in because most independent bookstores you know of are not set up to run that infrastructure themselves. Is that right?
Andy: [00:10:03] Yes, there are about 150 bookstores in this country that are really good at selling books online and have built out great websites. A lot of them are in urban centers and have lots of employees. And we’re not really a solution for them. People who shop at those stores like Politics and Prose or Tattered Cover or Powell’s, they should continue to shop at those stores. That’s the best way to support them. The stores that really haven’t gotten on board with e-commerce are really like 85% of stores out there. And they have a lot of hurdles and so we’ve taken those hurdles away. And they do make 30% as opposed to 40 or 45% if they sold it directly. But for these smaller stores I think that the 10% difference is probably more than made up for by the difference in overhead costs.
[00:10:50] And I would also say that there’s a matter of conversion rates and because is kind of a business-y podcast, people will know what those are. Our conversion rate right now is 8%, which is really high for an e-commerce site. If we can maintain conversion rates like 8% or make them better, then our store might earn more money for a store in the long run than setting up their own website which might have a lower conversion rate.
Wailin: [00:11:12] Can you go a little bit into the seedy world of affiliate links and affiliate sales, which I know is a huge part of what Amazon does, and it seems almost impossible to get away from Amazon affiliate links. It’s like the default link that people provide when they’re linking out to a product. Is your vision for Bookshop.org that eventually affiliate links that lead back to Bookshop.org and not to Amazon, say, get kind of sprinkled around everywhere where folks are mentioning books?
Andy: [00:11:40] Absolutely. That is the other problem that Bookshop was meant to solve. Amazon pays 4.5% of every book sale if you link to them when you cover a book. That means, with all these digital publishers straining for finding revenue where-ever they can get it. Everybody from Buzzfeed to the New York Times to the Washington Post. Everybody links to Amazon whenever they write about a book. As a result to that, anybody that cares about books and wants to read about books on the internet are going to be following links to Amazon to buy those books.
[00:12:16] It creates a funnel as wide as the internet where millions of people are being driven to Amazon, and that’s one of the reasons Amazon’s grown so rapidly in the past 10 years. Book coverage, people writing about books, interviewing authors, reviewing books, that’s really important to a healthy ecosystem around books, too. I think most of the editors of those publications and the writers are book lovers and they want to support independent bookstores, too, but they had no alternative besides Amazon.
[00:12:42] So we’ve created an affiliate program that pays 10%, not 4.5%. And not only do we pay that 10%, but we give a matching 10% to independent bookstores whenever a book is purchased from a link. That affiliate program also works for authors that want to earn more money by selling books to their communities. It even works for PTA associations that, right now if they go to Amazon Smile, they’ll get 2% of any book sales. If they go to Bookshop, they’ll get 10% of any book sale. And, they support their local bookstores at the same time with another 10%.
[00:13:11] So the affiliate program is an incredibly important part of our strategy. We’ve already gotten The New York Times on board. They now link to Bookshop alongside Amazon. We’ve gotten all the major US publishers using it and they all link to Bookshop alongside Amazon.
Wailin: [00:13:27] What is the relationship between Bookshop.org and IndieBound? Because we’re, on our show notes, at least, we would use IndieBound links or publisher links instead of Amazon. And then, recently, I was on IndieBound, and I notice that now IndieBound is pointing to Bookshop.
Andy: [00:13:43] So, IndieBound is an initiative from the American Booksellers Association to get people to shop indies online. It’s been around for a long time. When I started this whole thing, I went to the ABA, and I said, hey, I’ve got some ideas for IndieBound, this is how you guys should all do it. That was my first idea for Bookshop, was just to have them do it at IndieBound. For legal reasons, there’s many reasons why a trade association can’t create something like Bookshop. Antitrust reasons, and they can’t be a retailer because they represent retailers, etc. So they weren’t able to create Bookshop as their own initiative, but they invested in Bookshop instead and advised us all along the way.
[00:14:20] So IndieBound is still a really worthwhile service for people who are looking to find their local bookstore and support it directly. And many of those stores would prefer you order directly from them. So if you do have a local bookstore that does online fulfillment, please order directly from them. We are the solution for all the other ones.
Wailin: [00:14:36] And so, ABA is one of your investors. Who are your other investors, and how much did you raise?
Andy: [00:14:42] We raised $775,000 which seems like a lot of money to me because I’m pretty scrappy and always on the outside indie world. But for a company that’s trying to go head-to-head with Amazon, it isn’t very much money. Our investors are just individuals. We didn’t take any hedge fund or any venture capital money because we didn’t want the pressure of a 10X return, and we certainly didn’t want the pressure to sell the company to somebody else because we couldn’t be sure that they would keep our mission. We actually put in our articles of incorporation that we will never sell to Amazon. We won’t sell to Barnes & Noble, and we will not sell to any of the major retailers in the US, so we have kind of a clause in there that keeps us honest and makes sure that all the bookstores that invest their time and energy in us will be rewarded. We won’t go away or we won’t flip it and stick them with a partner that they can’t trust.
[00:15:30] The investors are people Morgan Entrekin who owns Grove/Atlantic books, Terry McDonald who was the editor of Sports Illustrated and Rolling Stone and Esquire magazine for a long time. Legendary guy. We really tried to find people who love independent bookstores, who weren’t looking for a quick return on their money, and just wanted to do something culturally that they felt was worthwhile.
Wailin: [00:15:55] So you launched in January, before everything fell apart. And I’m sure you had some plans in your head, and a vision of how the next 3 to 6 to 12 months were going to unfold. Can you talk about maybe what some of those things were and then what ended up happening, since you were, like all of us, kind of thrown into very strange circumstances?
Andy: [00:16:20] Well, I appreciate the typical startup playbook, and I was trying to go by it, by releasing with the minimum viable product. And then we thought we had like 6 months before, or even 8 months before the holiday season when we would really kind of ramp up and try to take Amazon on. So we were in beta, we were fixing bugs, we were adding features. We spent about five blissful weeks doing that. We sold $50,000 worth of books in our first month, which was a little bit over our plan, so we were happy with how it was going. We raised $10,000 for bookstores in the first month, we were happy with that.
[00:16:57] Then, in the middle of March, suddenly, lockdown occurred. Our stores numbers went from 250 stores on the platform to 500. Now that’s over 600. Our revenue went up from $4,000 a day to $10,000 a day to $40,000 a day, to $100,000 to $150,000 a day. Yesterday, it was $180,000 in a single day.
[00:17:22] We have raised over a million dollars for bookstores. Most of that has been in the past four weeks. At the same time, it’s been an extreme strain. It’s the most stressful time of my life. I’ve got home learning going on here. I’ve got a six-year-old and eight-year-old who can’t go to school. It’s completely insane.
[00:17:40] I get up at five in the morning, I go to bed at 11 at night, and there’s an unfathomable queue of work and emails. Yes, it’s really a wild, intense ride, but I’m extremely grateful for it. Not only because Bookshop is succeeding, but because it is succeeding by helping bookstores. We’re not earning a ton of money because we’re giving the profits away, but every day we get emails from bookstores who are just like, thank God you came around when you did. You’ve been a lifeline in this time. That is what keeps me going. I think that this is a really bad time for a lot of people because of anxiety around corona, but also because you feel useless. So I’m really glad that we have something to do that’s actually helping people right now.
Wailin: [00:18:22] It’s like this product you built came under this enormous stress test right at the beginning. You wanted to beta-test it and it’s getting… it’s getting beta tested all right.
Andy: [00:18:32] Yeah, it’s only gone down for three minutes, which is not too shabby. I want to shout out HappyFunCorp who is the Brooklyn development team that is helping us build the site. They’ve been doing an excellent job. There are bugs, and we have 3,000 customer questions and thoughts and suggestions and issues and where is my package in the queue. We’re working hard to up our customer service, that’s the most challenging part right now. And figuring out what customer issues we can fix through software, and which ones we need to actually just have a human touch with and all of that as we scale. Because scaling three years worth of growth in three weeks is not easy.
Wailin: [00:19:14] And when you say customer support, it’s supporting both bookstores and shoppers, right? So bookstores probably have a list of requests about what they want their pages to look like, or other promotional features or ways they can get themselves in front of customers during this time, right?
Andy: [00:19:30] That’s right. They want to sell ebooks, they want to sell audiobooks, which we now do. We sell audiobooks through a partner Libro.fm, who is also a great supporter of indie bookstores. So that’s been great.
[00:19:42] Yeah, they want affiliate reporting, digital gift certificates, gift wrap, they want gift messages on your receipts. So many things that people want. And they don’t really, sometimes, understand that when you’re 11 weeks old, we haven’t gotten to gift wrap yet. We will get to it by June, I think.
Wailin: [00:19:59] With ebooks, is there any way to sell ebooks that benefits indies? I had a friend ask me this the other day, and I was like, oh, surely there must be a way, and then I was like googling the heck out of it. And I was like, no, it all comes back to Kindle. I got very confused.
Andy: [00:20:14] Well, we do have a partnership with Hummingbird, which is an indie-friendly platform. But you do have to use their own app. You can’t read it on your Kindle. Of those 3,000 customer issues, some of them are people who bought the ebook and then realized that they can’t read it on their Kindle, so that’s a puzzle which I would love to solve, but I probably won’t be able to solve it until maybe next year.
Wailin: [00:20:37] Right. Are there bigger issues going on in publishing right now that you think need more attention? And by that, I mean kind of like, right now in crisis mode, I’ve heard that Ingram is this big bottleneck where there are delays and obviously media mail is kind of a mess right now, and I’ve also heard of bookstores that because their cash flow is really low, they’ve had to cancel orders from publishers. It just seems like there’s just so many different crisis points happening all of which are not under your purview, obviously, but you have an interesting window into the many dilemmas that re facing indie bookstores right now. Can you kind of walk through some of the bigger structural things you’re seeing?
Andy: [00:21:17] Well, Ingram, I think, is doing the best they can. They have been getting books out the door, and there’s a 72 hour delay, but that’s because they care about worker safety and they’re not packing the warehouses with workers. So we’re happy to support their 72 hour delay. You’d be surprised how many customers complain about the 72 hour delay, even though they know that we’re in the middle of a pandemic. But they’re still mad when they don’t get their book in 10 days.
[00:21:44] USPS is, of course, going through tremendous strain right now, too. Everything’s being delivered. They’re still managing to operate in a wonderful way, but they’re strained. And because they’re strained, we do have more issues with late deliveries, we have more issues with missing packages than we would normally have. If a package of ours goes missing and doesn’t arrive at somebody’s house within 12 days, we will refund them the entire amount and just send them another package. So we’re taking the hit there. And there’s definitely going to be challenges in terms of credit accounts, and I know that some publishers have been really good with giving bookstores more credit, and other publishers are lagging behind. And I really hope all publishers will step up and give much more generous terms to booksellers for credit right now.
[00:22:33] All publishers are worried. On the top level, book sales have not really decreased because people are buying a ton of YA, they’re buying puzzle books, they’re buying books to entertain themselves during quarantine, which I really support. But certain areas of book publishing are really hurting, like literary fiction and nonfiction, biography. Those segments are going down even as activity books and crossword puzzles go up, so there is an impact. And really, the kind of books that… the literary books that I love are often the books that are hand sold at independent bookstores and those are the ones that are being affected really most negatively by the crisis.
[00:23:10] Like everyone else, I just hope we get through it soon enough that these businesses remain intact.
Wailin: [00:23:16] Right, and when you think about the really nice elements of brick and mortar bookstores, browsing, serendipity, the hand-selling, place building, those kinds of elements, are those things that you hope to replicate in some small way with Bookshop.org? Are there elements that you think you could replicate online?
Andy: [00:23:37] We do have staff picks all over the site. We don’t have any algorithms at all to recommend books. I think people have wasted a lot of time and a lot of money trying to create the perfect algorithm to recommend a book to you. But people don’t buy books because an algorithm recommended a book to them. They buy books because somebody that they trust and care about recommended a book to them. Bookshop is all human recommendation driven, and that’s the first way that we’re trying to replicate an in-store book experience.
[00:24:07] But, I would say, overall, the purpose of Bookshop is not to replace independent bookstores’ physical locations. In fact, that would be a terrible outcome for us. We don’t want that to happen at all. We want people to keep continuing to go to their independent bookstores. The problem we’re trying to solve is that people will go into their independent bookstores during the day or on the weekend and then buy from Amazon at night. We’re trying to give them a way that they can support their independent bookstore 24/7, where ever they go.
[00:24:34] We’ve got bookstores that are in Martha’s Vineyard who have tons of seasonal traffic but then throughout the rest of the year, their customers have no way of supporting them. Now they can by ordering from them all the time, and they don’t have to ship those books from an island. We ship them from Ingram’s warehouses, which are all over the country.
Wailin: [00:24:51] How did Ingram get to be so big?
Andy: [00:24:52] Unfortunately, it’s capitalism, it’s America. Baker & Taylor, which was the second-largest distributor decided to go library-only, which was a big blow because there were two major players and now there’s just one. While I appreciate my partnership with Ingram and we’re really grateful to them for supporting Bookshop, I do think that in any industry it’s not good to have only one giant player that dominates it. And that’s why Bookshop exists to make Amazon not that player in the book world, and sure, it would be good to have more alternatives to Ingram, even though they’re a good company that is trying to support stores and is being a good partner with Bookshop so we do like them.
Wailin: [00:25:35] Are there certain cautionary tales, maybe not in publishing, but out of the tech and startup and Silicon Valley world that you’re looking at now, and saying, okay. We’ve got to watch out and not be on that path? I look at companies like Grubhub, for example that started out as a friendly layer of tech between a fragmented industry of independent businesses and consumers, right? And now when I look at Grubhub, I think, like, wow. They really got to be a big evil company.
Andy: [00:26:07] Yeah, absolutely. And that’s why from the beginning we put in our articles of incorporation that we can’t sell the company because we knew that there would be a day, if we were successful, that somebody would try to buy it, and we didn’t want to deal with, not only the temptation, us personally. I’m not a big money person, I’m literally sitting in a 450 square foot apartment in Brooklyn. I’ve done a lot in my life, but nothing really that makes very much money, including Bookshop, which gives away all of its profits. And I knew that venture capital would have issues with our model and they would probably want us to start out this way as super friendly and then gradually put the squeeze on as we dominate more of the market. We could squeeze publishers, we could squeeze the bookstores, we could do all kinds of stuff to try to increase our profits, but that’s why we didn’t take any venture capital money.
[00:27:01] We also put three independent bookstores on our seven member board and we’re living very openly. We put the money we’ve raised for bookstores right on our site, right at the top of Bookshop.org, you can see the ticker. Every time you buy a book, you can see that ticker go up. We set up a whole process to keep ourselves very honest in that regard.
[00:27:20] Silicon Valley is a funny place. It’s ridiculous how everyone is like, “I want to change the world, I want to change the world, I want to change the world.” By offering a frictionless e-commerce experience for, like, clogs. We’re trying to use Silicon Valley’s tools to un-disrupt an industry that was being disrupted.
[00:27:40] And so what I love is the idea of doing that everywhere. These days, seeing how it’s working for bookstores, I start to fantasize about toy stores, record stores. How many stores are an integral part of our downtowns and communities that need to be able to compete with these giant megalith e-commerce companies? And I think Shopify has done a good job, Etsy has done a good job. There are some players that have helped small businesses succeed online, but I think there’s a lot more that can be done, and I really like the fact that this technology is just a tool. It can be used for good, it can be used for evil, and we’re going to try to keep using it for good by listening to the community that we’re serving.
[00:28:22] The silver lining for all of this, for me, has been seeing how eager people are to help each other and how eager they are to find ways to help their communities, and that includes independent bookstores. The whole rush that we saw in March and April, 65-70% of that was individuals trying to help their local bookstores survive. So it’s really nice to know that people will help each other in times of crisis.
[00:28:52] Broken By Design by Clip Art plays.
Shaun: [00:28:57] Rework is produced by Wailin Wong and me, Shaun Hildner. Music for the show is by Clip Art.
Wailin: [00:29:03] If you want to look for independent bookstores in your area, you can go to Bookshop.org and click “Find a Bookstore” at the top. Remember, if your bookstore is open for curbside pick-up or local delivery, or is set up to ship to you directly, get your books that way. Also, right now Bookshop is only for stores in the US, but being able to ship worldwide is on their wishlist.
[00:29:24] Bookshop is also on Twitter and Instagram at @bookshop_org. Andy Hunter is on Twitter at @andyhunter777.
Shaun: [00:29:31] We’re on Twitter at @reworkpodcast and our website is Rework.fm where you can find show notes and transcripts for all of our episodes.
[00:29:41] Rework is brought to you by Basecamp. Basecamp is the all-in-one toolkit for working remotely. You’re wondering how you will quickly transition your team to remote work. People are stressed, work feels scattered, projects are slipping, and it’s tough to see and manage everything. With Basecamp, everything will be organized in one place, your team will be working together, even though they’re physically apart, you’ll be on top of things, and a sense of calm will set in.
[00:30:05] Learn more at Basecamp.com.
Wailin: [00:30:18] So what have you tried to read?
Shaun: [00:30:20] I am currently reading Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins.
Wailin: [00:30:25] Oh yeah.
Shaun: [00:30:25] It is a friend of mine’s favorite book and so she’s had this tattered up paperback that she’s passed around to all her friends and makes us underline our favorite passage and date it, which is really cute. So I get to see all my friends’ favorite Tom Robbins quotes.
Wailin: [00:30:40] That’s great!
Shaun: [00:30:42] And then, I just started a book, I don’t know if you’ve heard it, it’s called Astounding? It’s by this up-and-coming author.
Wailin: [00:30:49] Ah, it’s just completely unreadable, isn’t it?
Shaun: [00:30:52] It’s real big, but now I don’t have to carry that giant tome on my commute, so it’s not too bad.
Wailin: [00:30:58] That’s true.