Independent book stores now have a new weapon against ecommerce rival Amazon and supermarket chains that pile books high and sell them low. Now booksellers have launched Bookindy, a new app to aid stagnant sales.
The app will use Amazon‘s own technology to upstage it, in an endeavour to answer its inventor‘s initial question: “Can you promote local independent bookshops on the very system that‘s designed to destroy them?”
Bookindy works as an extension to Amazon on a Google Chrome browser, changing the appearance of the Amazon website slightly with the addition of a box that shows consumers the cheapest price of that book from an independent shop in comparison to the Amazon price. It also indicates how far that store is from consumers‘ current location.
The app, marketed with the tagline “browse Amazon, buy independent” receives its information from the online indie retailer Hive. Founded in 2011, Hive describes itself as a place “where the two worlds of online purchasing and high street shopping collide.”
With ecommerce becoming more and more prevalent, efficient and sometimes easier for consumers, the book industry has largely suffered.
Creative Director and entrepreneur Will Cookson who invented the app, explained his reasoning on the site medium.com: “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?”
He added: “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.”
According to Cookson, price is not the key issue: “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.”