Books have been at the epicentre of consumer e-commerce since before the dotcom boom, helping launch what is now one of the largest technology companies in the world. But where much of the success in that era relied on disrupting legacy industries, the loss of local bookshops had a profoundly negative impact on surrounding communities. With the pandemic threatening to further decimate this socially important business niche, Bookshop.org was born.
“A lot of what you hear about Silicon Valley culture is about disrupting an industry,” said Andy Hunter, founder and CEO of Bookshop.org. “What if we use the same tools some might use to disrupt an industry to actually reinforce it?”
With a team just four people strong, Hunter set out to offer local independent bookshops the opportunity of a modern e-commerce platform. The idea was to help level the playing field with massive online booksellers while maintaining the personal touch and local impact of independent bookshops. But the team had to work fast, as small businesses began to feel the pain of pandemic lockdowns.
To launch its solution quickly, Bookshop.org chose Stripe Payments to facilitate consumer credit and debit card purchases and Stripe Connect to generate direct payouts to individual bookshops. Stripe Payments lets platforms easily accept payments in just minutes, with built-in fraud protections and support for over 135 currencies and dozens of payment methods. Stripe Connect is a fast and easy way to integrate global payments into platforms without the typical upfront costs or lengthy development times.
“I started Bookshop.org because I wanted those small businesses to be more competitive and have the migration of consumer habits not be an existential threat for them,” explained Hunter. “We want the barriers preventing small businesses from truly participating in e-commerce to be swept away.”
In the first two years since its launch, Bookshop.org has generated over $22 million in profit for the more than 1,500 booksellers on its platform.
“Someone can find my Bookshop link either on our website or on our social,” said Lucy Yu, founder and owner of Yu and Me Books and a Bookshop.org customer. “I’ve had a lot of calls telling me how easy and seamless the process is and how fast the books have arrived.”
Bookshop.org is disrupting the e-commerce market, but this time by giving small businesses a better chance to compete and support the communities they serve. As a certified B Corp, Bookshop.org also steers 80% of its profits back to independent bookshops.
36% increase in mobile conversion rates
Using Stripe Payments mobile capabilities, Bookshop.org increased mobile checkout conversion rates by 36% and added $1.7 million in new revenue for local bookshops and their communities.
Hunter said, “It’s super easy for you to order a book online, get it delivered in three days, and have the profit from that sale go to your local bookshop.”
$21 million in profit for booksellers
Stripe forms the foundation of the Bookshop.org e-commerce platform, enabling small, brick-and-mortar businesses to instantly create online revenue streams.
Hunter says, “There are bookshops a hundred years old that wouldn’t have made it through the pandemic without Bookshop.org.”
+2 million customers since launch
Giving consumers more options for buying books online helps more small businesses stay open as community hubs that foster culture, curiosity, and a love of reading. Its rapid success in the US, and Stripe availability in nearly 50 countries, gave Bookshop.org the confidence to quickly expand into the UK and Spain.
Yu said, “Just having something like Bookshop, having those online sales come through, it made me be like, ‘Okay, we can pay rent this month.’”
We want the barriers preventing small businesses from truly participating in e-commerce to be swept away.