Living Wage Initiative


Booksmith is committed to paying its workers as much as it sustainably can, including a comprehensive legacy healthcare program for full time employees. In further pursuit of a living wage, we established a 2% surcharge on all purchases. All of this goes directly to fund staff compensation. 


Why a living wage for bookstores?

The price of books is printed on them: because we don't set our own prices, the margin on an $18 book in Topeka is the same as the margin on an $18 book in San Francisco. There's no organic way for independent bookstores to get their merchandise to reflect local costs of living. 

Historically, publishing and specifically bookselling are industries that have artificially sustained themselves by paying poverty wages to their workers. To meaningfully address diversity and equity in bookselling, there needs to be more money available for bookseller pay. A key part of bookstore sustainability is financial sustainability for the people who work in bookstores.

Booksellers are craftspeople who need access to a vast well of experience: just to know the collection of books we stock on the shelves at any given time, we need a passing familiarity with over 25,000 titles, an understanding of what they are, and the expertise to recommend them, find books we don't know, and learn about new releases. This is a level of knowledge that can't be appropriately compensated for in publishing's current structure. This is why other stores, like Kepler's Books in Menlo Park, have started to pilot similar programs to attempt to address the systemic inequity in bookseller pay. 

When you spend your money in your community, it stays in your community. Bookstores are vital cultural institutions necessary to a community's wellbeing—centers for connection, discovery, dreaming, and happenstance.

Thanks, as always, for your support.

--The Booksmith