I appreciate my daily dose of the Guardian, but was disappointed by your report on the so-called “revolutionary” option of yet another online bookstore to compete with Amazon (‘This is revolutionary’: new online bookshop unites indies to rival Amazon, 2 November). The piece reads like a promo for a corporation, perhaps soon to be gobbled up by another major investor. I found no voices of independent bookstore owners who have opted to avoid partnership.
El Paso, Texas, located in the borderlands of the US and Mexico with 2.5 million people, is home to only two locally owned bookstores that are now struggling to stay alive during the pandemic. I sent the article to them, and neither would partner with yet another online distributor with the likely and dubious consequences of driving yet more readers online rather than to their stores. In shops, readers can discover gently used and new books, hopefully in conversation with the owners or other customers. They’ll find more interesting books to read than in the individualistic, alienating online experience.
El Paso, Texas, US
• While we may all welcome the new online bookshop that “unites indies to rival Amazon”, the situation is not so straightforward. As an indie author who is also published by a smaller UK press, I am able to successfully sell books through Amazon. Last year I sold hundreds – a very welcome source of income, especially at the current time. Perhaps I’ve simply been unlucky, but my attempts to work with my local independent bookshop have come to nothing. Despite the obvious parallels between indie bookshops and indie authors, my experience is that such shops are much more interested in working with “big” publishers. It is ironic.
Hope Mansel, Herefordshire
• In the past week, you have carried two prominent articles lauding a new online bookshop that bills itself as the more responsible alternative to Amazon, giving some support to local bookshops.
Fair enough – but that business too is in fact an arm of a US company. I feel that you should at least have mentioned that hive.co.uk, an entirely British online bookshop, has been doing the same since 2011, and now has about 350 bookshops in its partnership, and taking a top-slice of its sales. (I’m not, by the way, involved at all with Hive, save as a satisfied book-buyer.)