As soon as I heard the word “Bookshop” while Kate and I were discussing potential internship placements for me, I knew that was where I wanted to be. Bookshop.org launched just before the pandemic started in January 2020. Its mission was to provide support for indie bookstores, giving them some collective standing against the behemoth that is Amazon, while enabling readers shopping online to easily access their favorite local (or far away) bookstore.
The process is simple for customers. First, you choose the store you would like your purchase to be carried out through. Just as you would with any other online book retailer, you purchase whatever books you like. The purchase directly benefits the bookstore you have chosen, as well as other bookstores, as Bookshop divides gives bookstores not only money from purchases directly from them but also from their network-wide profit pool (made up of over 1,600 stores and counting!).
Being a very online individual, particularly in the online reading and writing communities, I became familiar with Bookshop toward the beginning of the pandemic. I began offering gift cards for Bookshop when I would run contests on my accounts, as well as using it personally. Eventually, I became an affiliate for them, a program where you create your own “shop” which people can visit and shop through while you can earn money from their purchases.
Though I was familiar with Bookshop as an entity and had a teensy bit of insider knowledge, I was very anxious about starting my internship with them as I have so much regard for their mission and am so far from their presence and life in NYC where they are based. I am always a little nervous about introducing myself as a rural West Virginian to people from big cities, especially ones that I have never visited and that are as irrefutably impressive and important in the publishing world as New York.
After my original contact at Bookshop passed me on to the marketing and social media team that I would be working with, I began to feel more at ease. For one thing, the first name I was given was that of the person who runs their affiliate program and who I frequently receive general emails from about updates to the program and whatnot. Elle is in charge of that and the marketing side, and while I was happy to see a familiar name, I still felt a little anxious about what responsibilities I might be tasked with on that side of things.
After studying their social media presence on different platforms, though, I was relieved to see that I might actually have something to offer them. While they have a strong Instagram presence and a growing TikTok one, their Facebook page was rather lackluster with a following on there that is a fraction of mine, and I saw several things that I could do immediately to help broaden its appeal and increase its impact. Social media management is a strength of mine and as soon as we began talking about what I might do, everything started to come together, and I had the beautiful thought that I might actually be able to make a difference at this wonderful company.
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