Edelweiss, in Seattle, was originally an online digital catalog of print books. It also runs an analytics service to allow booksellers to compare their sales anonymously with their peers, giving even small booksellers access to a vast amount of sales and marketing data.
Its social network, Edelweiss Community, allows independent bookshops to share reviews of over 500,000 titles in its database — and to exchange trade tips and offer support as print books come increasingly under siege from e-books and web giants like Amazon. The community got its start after Amazon announced last year that it was acquiring the popular social reading platform Goodreads, dismaying many independent booksellers, said John Rubin, Edelweiss's chief executive.
Mr. Rubin, a former management consultant, said he was initially skeptical of trying to work with feisty indie merchants. "I was warned it would be like herding cats," he said.
"But I just want to give them every edge, everything they can do to narrow the gap between Amazon and the bookstore," he said. "It's all about helping those one or two people in the tiny back office. I want to help those guys."
—By Hiroko Tabuchi, The New York Times