I slipped into the convenience trap. I happily ordered my Ballards, my Murakamis, my Carvers from Amazon without giving much thought to my local independent bookshop, just 10 minutes from my home.
Amazon is convenient. For lazy, laptop-in-bed, impulse purchase people like me Amazon is a dream — it offers me a familiar catalogue of books, ready to purchase with a click and get delivered next day. They might not pay much tax in the UK, but when time is so precious and it’s that easy, do we really care?
The march of the machine brings more efficiency and savings but everyone knows it’s the small guys getting squeezed. When I cycled past my local bookshop, I felt a niggle. A niggle that said if I wasn’t supposed to be meeting Mario at 10am for that pre-ride coffee, I would go in there. I would buy a book, support the shop. The niggle said maybe I’ll go tomorrow or the day after? I said that would be great.
I think we do care about local independent shops but we’ve turned into lazy, laptop-in-bed, impulse purchase type people, who crave convenience. If we are to buy from independent bookshops again, we’re not going to change our ways based on pangs of guilt or a sense of obligation. We demand something as convenient as Amazon. We demand something that gives us the choice of where to buy a book from with no extra effort.
With this in mind, I asked myself the question:
Can you promote local independent bookshops on the very system that’s designed to destroy them?
I wanted to build something that doesn’t compete head-on with the Amazon machine, but embraces it, augments it and nudges you towards the local option to buy.
The Bookindy Google Chrome extension gives you the price of the book in your local bookshop whilst browsing Amazon. Bookindy embraces Amazon’s well-ordered and familiar catalogue for browsing and allows you to buy the book from your local independent bookshop shop if you want to.
Here are the biggest revelations in building and using Bookindy:
- Amazon isn’t always cheaper than your local bookshop – You could use Bookindy to ensure you’re buying at the cheapest price.
- Books are sometimes out of stock on Amazon, but in stock at your local bookshop – You could use Bookindy to buy a book before it’s restocked on Amazon.
- Bookindy uses a brilliant service for independent bookshops called Hive, who deliver books directly from the wholesaler. Whether you pick up or get it delivered, your local bookshop benefits. You could use Bookindy to support your local independent bookshop and never actually visit it!
- Direct price comparison of books becomes strangely addictive! — You could use Bookindy to wean yourself off Facebook.
I now browse Amazon and then buy books from Dulwich Books, my local independent bookshop, 0.8 miles away. I sometimes go and pick up in the shop but more often, books drop through my letterbox. I sometimes pay a few pence more, sometimes a few pence less.
With Bookindy I can remain lazy, impulsive and order books from the comfort of my bed. But the niggle has gone.