Alternatives to Amazon: First Book Order Through the Hive

February 6, 2013 | By Paul Mackenzie Ross | Filed in: Books, business, philosophy.

Siddhartha - Herman HesseA recent conversation on one of the comments sections of the Friends of the Tumble Down Dick website got me thinking:

“Are there any alternatives to Amazon?”

For many years now I’ve been an Amazon affiliate and earned a few pennies here and there from my web and blog posts. In all honesty, I don’t think I’ve ever had a cheque from Amazon, but one day I’ll probably earn that £25 threshold payout from linking to obscure Haynes Manuals for the Opel Manta.

When the opportunity came up to make some pennies for the Tumbledown campaign, I set up an Amazon affiliate account.  I haven’t looked yet, but I don’t expect it’s earned very much at all. (Update: I just looked – Zero pence)

The conversation on the Tumbledown website started and a local activist and advocate of shopping local told me that it was hypocritical to encourage people to be consumers. I thought this was a little strong and gently reminded the guy that I was only encouraging people, if they were already going to do their online shopping, to use the link provided.

The pertinent point, though, was the use of Amazon – After all, they have been slammed in the news recently for failing to pay their full tax in the UK.

If you look at a story in The Guardian last year (top of the search results for “Amazon no tax”) entitled Amazon: £7bn sales, no UK corporation tax then you’ll probably wonder why you earn your 5-figure salary and give 4 figures away in tax when a foreign corporation earns a TEN figure turnover but pays a ZERO sum.

Whatever Amazon pay or don’t pay in UK taxes, it’s not enough and they are minimising their tax. I seem to recall that I saw that if they paid tax on their UK earnings then that would be enough to pay for five new hospitals or some new schools. At a time when the current government are squeezing the public purse, libraries are shutting, hospitals are closing and people are losing jobs, then that tax would be welcome in the public purse. (Just as long as the guardians of the public pot spend it wisely!)

The Hive

My question to my questioner was this – What is the alternative to Amazon? Where else can I find an affiliate scheme that will earn the campaign to resurrect our pub some vital funds?

No answer.

I found, through the Ethical Consumer website, an alternative – Hive. A cursory look showed that hive sells books and DVDs, so if I wanted a camera or flash memory, a car holder or charger for my iPhone, a Kindle for my wife or a Monster High doll for my daughter then I’d be stuck.

But I *did* want a book – I actually have a *lot* of books on my “to read” shelf at home and a great big wish list on my phone, but, on the spur of the moment, I decided to purchase a book I was after for a very long time.

I went to hive. I looked up “Siddartha” by Herman Hesse. There was a version with a foreword by Paulo Coehlo, whom I have respect for, but it’s not *his* book, it’s Herman Hesse’. Funnily enough the Coehlo version was more expensive so I ordered the original for about £3 less.

I made my order, paid, and was presented with the option of either having the book delivered to my home address for 99p or delivered, at no cost, to a local bookshop.

I opted for the local bookshop option.

So, in 2-3 days time I will receive some sort of notification that my book has arrived at a local bookshop, one that I neither knew existed before nor have I ever visited it.

So, in the spirit of shopping local and doing business with a vendor that pays full UK tax, I’m doing a tiny little thing to help out.

If you’re looking for alternatives to Amazon, for either books or DVDs, then why not try out hive and let me know how you get on? 🙂


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