As previously posted, I was recently looking for an alternative to Amazon. The thought process came about after I was accused, quite reasonably, of putting money into Amazon’s pockets when there were serious questions to be asked about their ethics and morality. The main points of contention are that:
1) Amazon have been accused of paying very little UK tax on billions of pounds worth of turnover (2011 – £3.35 billion turnover with a “tax expense of £1.8 million according to the BBC)
2) If that’s the case then small businesses are being subjected to unfair competition (Because they pay full UK taxes on their profits and their Goliath-sized competitors do not)
3) High streets are apparently suffering because of online retailers and some of those are based in tax havens
4) Buying from local businesses puts money INTO the local economy. Purchases to big corporations ensure that money is drained OUT of the local economy.
I ordered my book, Siddhartha, by Hermann Hesse, on 5th February. The book was printed and then dispatched on the 12th February. On the 13th February the book arrived at the nearest local bookshop in the Hive network, Bookends of Wokingham, and today I picked up my order.
It was quite a laid-back experience and I think I set foot in Wokingham for the first time ever. Of course, I *could* have had the book delivered to my house, this saving me the drive and the petrol from my house in Farnborough to Wokingham town centre, and I should have stopped to look at more shops in the town and had an ale in one of the local establishments – But I shall save that for next time.
I was impressed by the service, which was leisurely in its delivery time, but why should we be rushing everywhere all the time? The price was competitive and the mix of online and high street is something that I think can work well. A certain well-known computer retailer do a service where you order online but pickup from the store and save quite a bit of money but we won’t mention them after our blog post on PC World complaints.
The next nearest bookshop in the Hive network is at the University of Surrey book store in Guildford, so it’s worth planning a delivery with a visit to the town where the book shop is. I think the nearest independent store in Farnborough is actually in the Farnborough College of Technology site, so it would be good to have them in the Hive network.
Otherwise, it was a new and satisfying experience and I hoped that in some small way I supported a small, local independent retailer.