So at the end of May I discovered (see: probably stumbled upon on Twitter and decided to claim it as my own discovery) something pretty awesome. It’s free, it’s going to help you, and it’s going to help your local independent book stores. (As long as you live in the UK – sorry!) Sounds great, right?
Unfortunately, not everyone is aware of how horrible Amazon is. I’ll admit I still buy things from Amazon when I don’t have much other option (needing next day delivery, something I can’t find in person, etc.), but refuse to buy my books from there – considering that most of my shopping is books, it’d be pretty terrible if I did. I’m not going to go into why Amazon is the devil, but you can find out for yourself here, here, and here (though that was a quick Google for links, I’m sure there are better articles out there about the issues at hand).
Not to mention… if we’re shopping on Amazon, we’re not supporting our local independent bookshops are we? And there lies the biggest problem – shopping online may be convenient and quick, but bookshops are hubs of the bookish community, they’re there for you to discover new books in, and for booksellers to recommend their favourites to you. I love bookshops, most people I know love bookshops, even the ones who don’t read all that much. Bookshops are the best. Bookshops bookshops bookshops.
So. How does all of this relate to each other? What’s this thing that can help? Well, let me tell you.
Some wonderful people have now created a plug in/extension for Chrome which, whenever you browse Amazon for books, will remind you that you can buy it at your local independent bookshop. It’s called Bookindy and it is awesome. It will tell you how many miles away your local indie is, it will tell you how much the book will cost (sometimes it’s cheaper, sometimes it’s not), and help you buy it online if you can’t get to to the shop itself.
It’ll even insert a little button right next to ‘hardcover’ and ‘paperback’ as another cheeky reminder that you could be doing something better for the publishing industry and independent bookshops than buying on Amazon!
If you can’t make it to your local bookshop, for whatever reason, it will also give you a link to Hive, its partner. Hive is a website where you can shop for books online via your local bookshop, so that they’ll get a portion of the sale, while it will still get delivered straight to your front door. Great, right?
With hive, every time you make a purchase you are supporting your local independent shop as well, just by continuing to do what you love – buying your books, eBooks, entertainment and stationery online. Happy days.
Hive have good deals on prices too, they work with over 360 local bookshops nationwide, and you can either have your order delivered to your bookshop or to your house, and I can’t think of anything more fantastic! You may have noticed that along with Amazon (grumble) and Book Depository, I also link to Hive on each of my reviews – and now you know why! You do hear people banging on about how dangerous the internet has become for the publishing industry, and for physical books and bookshops, but we can see by this example that that doesn’t have to be the case – the internet can help you connect with your local bookshop if it’s otherwise not possible. Excellent.
As far as I can tell, Hive is UK only, and so is Bookindy so that’s a bit of a setback – but it’s a start. Perhaps they can expand in the future, or other bookish folks overseas will pick up the idea. The new prices they advertise are also the prices offered through their own website, which – while still supporting local business, doesn’t take into account the RRP that indie stores will probably be offering. Nonetheless, I often find that many new and popular books in my local shop have money off and deals on, so it’s worth popping in to have a look, right?
I’d be interested in seeing an addition to the app that will add a link to a Google Map giving you directions to your local bookshop, rather than just how many miles away it is. I can see that the idea is to drive people to buy from their website and bookshops simultaneously, and that may defeat the point a bit, but it would be a welcome feature.
There you have it, I do think you should run along and install this free Chrome extension Bookindy, so that next time you happen to be scrolling through Amazon looking at all the lovely books you’d like to buy (we all do it), you won’t accidentally end up giving them your money, and can support indie bookstores instead!