Can A Book Shop Compete With Amazon?

by Tanya October 11, 2023

Realistically, a bookstore cannot directly compete with Amazon.

Amazon is a trillion-dollar business.

However, with more customers wanting to support local small businesses (and not evil greedy corporations), there is room for independent online & offline bookstores to thrive.

Let’s get one thing out of the way before we start. There are 2 things you can’t compete with Amazon with and it’s:



Now let’s look at what you can do:

Offer an intimate atmosphere

Post-pandemic people are desperate for connection and community.

This is something that Amazon can’t offer.

Amazon has a very utilitarian, functional view of shopping – even their physical stores optimize too heavily on homogeneity & sterility.

Affluent consumers who value digital detoxing & physical relationships will naturally migrate to physical bookstores, which have a unique personal touch.

Organise events and experiences

This could include hosting events, participating in community festivals, and supporting local authors.

The events that people may like include:

* Reading aloud
* Meeting authors for signing & Q&A
* Lectures

Customer service and loyalty programs

You can’t always offer the best price for your customers. However, what you can do is offer loyalty programs, discounts, and bundles for repeat customers can help to improve customer retention.

When you have a competitive edge, and you then encourage customers to provide genuine reviews and recommendations, this will build trust and help new shoppers discover books they may love.

Unlike Amazon, independent bookstores are often staffed by passionate and knowledgeable booksellers who can offer personalised recommendations and engage with customers on a personal level.

Amazon, on the other hand, relies on algorithms and data to make recommendations, which may not always be as effective or accurate as a human bookseller’s recommendations.

Independent bookstores can use customer service as a competitive advantage, building strong relationships with their customers and offering a more personalised shopping experience.

Shipping is a big part of customer service as you need to guarantee prompt and reliable delivery, especially if you’re trying to find the best way to ship books around the world. 

Offer more than just books

Offer additional services, such as book repairs, gift wrapping, or custom book orders.

Offer space to meet and gather, free wifi, coffee, and snacks.

Sell rare and hard-to-find books

Focus on rare or hard-to-find books that may not be available on Amazon or other online retailers.

This could include rare editions, out-of-print books, or specialised subjects.

Independent bookstores can curate their inventory carefully, selecting only the best books and creating a unique selection that reflects their values and interests.

Independent bookstores can use quality as a competitive advantage, building a loyal customer base that values their unique selection.


Affluent and socially conscious consumers value digital detoxing & physical relationships. They will naturally migrate to physical bookstores, which have a unique personal touch.

If you have a passion for books and are also determined to provide an amazing customer experience, go for it. Open that bookstore.

Book lovers are a community all of their own, and an online bookstore can ensure you carve out your own corner of the literary world.

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The first Millennial blogger in the UK. Twitter @_luckyattitude

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