Amazon quickly established itself as an online bookstore behemoth, before expanding into almost every facet of our e-commerce lives. It’s super convenient, competes aggressively on price, and has a gigantic inventory. But, in other ways, we pay a heavy price, not least with the erosion of the high street. Enter Bookindy, a clever new web app that aims to help your local independent bookstore fight back.
Available initially in the U.K. only and installable as a Chrome Extension, Bookindy hijacks Amazon to let you browse books on the e-commerce giant’s site as you normally would. However, alongside Amazon’s own pricing, the price of the same book available from your local bookstore is displayed, with the option to also purchase locally. Under the hood, the app is powered by Hive, an online independent retailer in the U.K. that was set up to support local bookstores.
“For years, I’ve been buying more and more goods from Amazon, they’re convenient and trustworthy. While this convenience culture sates our appetite to buy whatever we want, whenever we want, local businesses are losing out, and in the long run this is to the detriment of the local economy and community,” explains Bookindy founder William Cookson, who previously co-founded Believe.in, the charity fundraising platform that unfortunately deadpooled earlier this year.
“There is no tech champion for local bookshops, individually they cannot compete with the likes of Amazon online. It’s not that Amazon is always cheaper (though a lot of best sellers are discounted) or that Amazon’s products are better (the books are the same), but Amazon has consolidated so many products and has become the one-stop shop for everything, the de facto.”
And while many of us who use Amazon are aware of the monopolistic effect the e-commerce behemoth is having, and have occasional pangs of guilt as a result, Cookson believes that the only way to help wean consumers off of their Amazon addiction is to make shopping at your local independent bookstore just as convenient.
“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. So with Bookindy you simply browse Amazon and get the local option the buy. It’s not competing head on, it’s about providing choice and a giving customers a gentle nudge,” he adds.
To that end, making a purchase via Bookindy, which in turn affiliate-links to Hive, gives you the option to pick up your book at your local bookstore or have it delivered Amazon-style to your home. Either way, however, due to the revenue share model of Hive, you are still supporting your local bookshop — and Bookindy itself.
“Bookindy takes a 5% affiliate fee for any book purchase, whether it’s delivered to you door or picked up in the local bookshop,” says Cookson. “The Chrome Extension effectively becomes a crowdsourced deal finder, giving data on what books people are searching for on Amazon and highlighting whether your local bookshop or Amazon is cheaper. Bookindy will be able to broadcast this outside the chrome extension and the plan is to create a comparison marketplace/feed.”