I’ve been following Jill’s Book Café for a few years now. If you’ve not come across this blog, do take a look, because Jill puts out some really interesting stuff – I particularly enjoy the Five on Friday slot because it introduces you to new authors and, occasionally, you learn something new about authors you thought you were familiar with.
Many months ago, she used one of her posts to comment on The Hive, an online store you can purchase books from. Personally, I mainly read on my Kindle, and tend to only buy hard copies when they’re signed by the author. Despite this personality flaw, I was intrigued by The Hive. I liked the concept, if only because it offered an alternative to Amazon.
Amazon has done a lot of good things for consumers. We can access a wide range of products and get them quickly and easily – very useful during lockdown, especially for those of us who’ve had to self-isolate. They’ve also opened doors for authors. Certainly, the rise of the Indie author wouldn’t have been possible on the same scale if it hadn’t have been for their efforts.
So, they have been a source for good. But, as with the supermarkets – eating into space once occupied by retailers of all types – the flip side is that the convenience is gained at the expense of choice for the consumer. As Amazon gains more dominance, the number of alternative retailers will diminish.
On the book front, we’ve seen that happen as independent bookshops struggle to maintain a presence. As these bookshops disappear, the ability to go into a shop and browse, to search for something new, or for inspiration, will gradually be eliminated. Somehow, scrolling through Amazon doesn’t offer the same experience.
But times are changing. For the consumer, time is precious, so they’re more likely to opt for the convenience of online. Traditional retailers are already struggling to survive, so the increase in online shopping only makes life harder for them. It’s hard to imagine the High Street won’t look wildly different in five to ten years.
If we want to retain the option of going into a bookshop, the only way we can do that is to support them in any way we can.
I admitted at the outset that I don’t buy ‘proper’ books very often, so I’m part of the problem. By using Kindle as opposed to any other eReader, I’m also supporting Amazon as opposed to other suppliers. But we have to be realistic, don’t we? It’s the same as the over-use of plastics. We’d like to eliminate them from our lives, but it’s not practical. All we can do is minimise the damage.
Which brings me back to The Hive. So far, I haven’t had cause to use it myself. My partner, on the other hand, has. She still likes how a book feels and smells, and won’t entertain the idea of an eBook. So far, her experience of The Hive has been good. No postage charge and prompt delivery has meant she’s been very happy with the service. But there’s another aspect to it. As well as providing the product, a percentage of the sale price will go to an independent bookshop, and you can nominate the bookshop. To be fair, it’s not a high percentage, but it’s something – and certainly more than the shop would get if you bought from Amazon.
The Hive is not the solution for small bookshops, but it could form part of it – for those who prefer to buy books online.
From now on, I’m following Jill’s lead. If I share details of a book in my posts – whether it’s my own book or one I’ve reviewed, I’ll include Amazon links for eBooks but, where they sell them, it’ll be The Hive for paperbacks. I doubt my stance on this will turn the tide, but it’s a start. And I hope it’ll give you pause for thought too.
Click the book cover to see Ravens Gathering is available, but not in stock!
To learn more about The Hive, click here.