Building a New Bookstore Brand to take on Amazon

Bookshop sells books online to help indie bookstores IRL


After running book publisher Catapult for a few years and becoming increasingly connected to indie book stores everywhere, Andy Hunter – co-founder of Electric Literature and LitHub as well – decided it was time to help independent book stores succeed in a world dominated by Amazon. The premise boiled down to this: taking a bite – even 1% – out of Amazon's online book sales, and redirecting much of the profits to indie book stores, could create an important lifeline for those businesses and provide them some exposure that they may not have the funds or technical skills to create for themselves.

We'd already worked successfully with Andy in the past, so we were excited to take on this challenge. Initially, we set out to rapidly create a brand identity that could resonante with both entrenched literary folks in the book world and book lovers who may be newer to the scene. The logo mark depicts a 'B' while also implying a stack of two books. The colors are playful, unique, and clearly differentiated from Amazon. 

We knew early on that for Bookshop to be successful, we needed to create a user-friendly experience that includes fast-but-not-Prime shipping, easy onboarding for new shoppers, and a way to amplify the reach of existing book groups, stores, and influencers in the form of a generous affiliate program. We also needed decent parity with book availability with the competition, meaning metadata, assets and up-to-date inventory info for millions of SKUs, requiring a partnership with book distribution giant Ingram. After about six months, we were ready to start selling books to the public. Bookshop Beta launched in January 2020.

Bookshop saw skyrocketing traffic and sales in the wake of COVID-19, serving as an important tool for indepdent booksellers to continue serving their customer base. In response, Bookshop increased the percentage of sales given to indepdent bookstores.

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quotation mark

Bookshop, an ecommerce startup intended to help independent bookstores assert themselves online, has Amazon in its sights.


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