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Buying, listing and recommending books

I currently buy books from a mix of physical and online stores including Waterstones, Hive, Blackwells and most recently, The Outwith Agency – my new local shop.

I have a Bookshelf section of my website which lists a number of books I’ve read, including what I’m currently reading. The idea was very much inspired by Dave Rupert’s bookshelf.

On my virtual bookshelf, each book links to a product details page on a third party website so that a visitor can easily buy that book if so inclined. This is a feature which I added without too much deeper thought.

On Dave Rupert’s bookshelf, each book links to its counterpart on Amazon. This is likely for two reasons: firstly, Amazon are likely to have it because they have everything; and secondly, he is enrolled in Amazon’s affiliate scheme, so can make a small commission from each recommendation that leads to a purchase. Makes sense!

Even though I’m not an Amazon affiliate I started by linking to Amazon almost by default, until a few months ago when I began linking to Hive instead. Upon hearing that Hive give a small percentage of each sale to an independent book shop I realised I’d rather support that effort than simply boost Amazon’s profits. (Also: Amazon don’t need my money, and I’m not a big fan of their attitude toward privacy).

Earlier this month I heard about Bookshelf and their MO is even more attractive than Hive’s. They provide “ready-made storefront” functionality for independent bookshops, and when a customer buys from a specific shop that shop is given the full profits of each sale. Alternately customers can buy from the generic Bookstore store too, in which case the profits are evenly distributed among a pool of independent shops.

I think when I buy books online in future, if I’m not buying direct from a shop then I’ll buy from Bookshelf.

I’m also going to mention to The Outwith Agency about Bookshop. They don’t currently have an e-commerce store so this could be some low-hanging fruit.

I’ve also enrolled in Bookshop’s affiliate programme because it’s an attractive proposition:

We also support anyone who advocates for books through our affiliate programme, which pays a 10% commission on every sale, and gives a matching 10% to independent bookshops.

Can’t argue with that! It feels like a pretty win-win way to recommend books.

As for my website: I’m now going to link any books I mention to the corresponding product on Bookshelf (I’ve already started with my note on A Promised Land) and see if I can’t take advantage of that affilliate scheme. I’ll need to do a little work, however Bookshop helpfully use a consistent URL structure which includes each book’s ISBN so that should make it easier to template my links and thumbnails.

Footnote: a big thank-you to Adactio’s post Bookshop which is full of great tips and insights on setting up with Bookshop.

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