Episode 7: Andy Hunter on the Role of Independent Bookstores and the Need for Innovation

In this episode, Joshua talks with Andy Hunter,Founder & CEO of BookShop.org. Andy started BookShop out of a concern for the future of independent bookstores. As Amazon has grown and taken a larger share of the online book selling market, publishers have become more dependent on that one store. BookShop aims to give more power back to indie booksellers and to publishers, by providing a convenient platform both for bookstores and for consumers to use, and by providing access to an affiliate program that pays 10% of the sale price of a book.

Andy talks about his reasons for starting BookShop, and reflects on being surprised at just how many readers are willing to forego buying books at Amazon in order to support their local bookstores. He also talks about what metadata would most help him as a bookseller to sell more books, calling out specifically the need for a higher-level categorization system that is more consumer-friendly than BISAC and the need for more options around book spreads and samples for complex books.

Finally, Andy talks about where he sees hope for the future in publishing. He appreciates that he is seeing more focus on innovation and more understanding of the need for a diverse ecosystem and more consumer choice. Innovation, though, is still lacking; for example, the use of proprietary DRM makes it hard for consumers to read their ebooks wherever they want. There is a chance that the industry will be more supportive of innovators and of new ways of book selling, but there are some potential roadblocks to that hopeful future. Andy also expresses concern about the fracturing of the market with more publishers focusing on direct-to-consumer options instead of focusing support on current book selling options like indie bookstores.

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