It has been revealed today in an unexpected move that Amazon was behind the mystery donation to a fundraising campaign to support UK bookstores that have been forced to close due to the Covid-19 Coronavirus.
Created at the start of the lockdown in the UK by Gayle Lazda from the London Review Bookshop, Picador’s Kishani Widyaratna and Daunt Books publisher Zeljka Marosevic. Due to the social distancing measure implemented and the lockdown forcing stores to shut.
The fundraiser was originally targeted at raising £10,000 for The Book Trade Charity. Some big names got behind the fundraiser including Penguin that pledged to match all donations £1 to £1 to a max of £50,000.
As you can see on their Gofundme page total online donations now stand at £68,272 which thanks to Penguin means that is actually £118,272.
Along comes the ‘Anonymous Donor’
On Wednesday 22nd April The Bookseller announced that an anonymous donor had come forward and pledged £250,000 to the charity.
At the time of the announcement David Hicks the CEO of the charity said:
“The donor just wants to say they are committed to independent bookshops as part of a mixed bookselling economy and they want to show some support and we were their chosen vehicle through which to do that on the basis of the crowdfunder.
“I’m sure the actual crowdfunder that was set up has raised our profile considerably and I think that was instrumental in the donor coming to us. But there isn’t anybody else doing what we’re doing for bookshops and bookshop staff so it’s a natural place to come.” – David Hicks, CEO, The Book Trade Charity
This donation raised the total amount to £380,000+ with donations still coming in and being handed out through hardship grants by the charity.
The Amazon Reveal
After mounting speculation about who could and would make such a generous donation to the charity David Hicks revealed it was the internet giant to quash the rumours and speculation.
He went on to add:
“The additional boost … has put us in a very strong position to help even more booksellers suffering hardship from this crisis. We all recognise the value of bookshops to local communities, the trade, as well as the economy, and it is a privilege to represent such a broad cross-section of the industry,” – David Hicks, CEO, The Book Trade Charity
This reveal has caused some unrest amongst book store owners as many see Amazon as the giant that destroyed the traditional book shop and damaged many of the larger chains such as Borders and Barnes & Noble.
Why We’re Not Surprised
A lot of mainstream media are heavily critical of Amazon and the impact that they have had on the book industry.
What the less eCommerce aware fail to see is just how much Amazon relies on independent book stores to sell as third party sellers on their platform.
In fact if we do a search for the top third party sellers on the Amazon UK platform, we see that 4 out of the top 6 are all book sellers.
This is undoubtedly a really kind gesture from the internet giant and whilst only a drop in the ocean to them, it will have a huge impact on the independents applying for hardship grants.
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