So, HMV, the music and DVD chain, has just appointed administrators. It’s just the latest casualty on the High Street and put some 4,350 jobs “at risk”. This is very sad news… but even sadder, from a selfish, personal perspective, it will also apparently mean the end for “Fopp” (my favourite local record store on College Green, Bristol). The reason for its demise has been put down to online retailing.Karine Polwart (a favourite singer/songwriter of mine) wrote this on facebook this morning:
“Now I know HMV ain't no friendly society but it's going under tomorrow, taking FOPP with it. One less obstacle to global Amazon domination? And less and less chance of some local manager or knowledgable, dedicated and enthusiastic employee (like the mighty Fiona McMenamin) punting local, bespoke or off the radar stuff? Of course, Amazon does the algorithm recommendation thing too. And artists like me agree to have our stuff stocked there. I posted elsewhere to note that an incredible 80% of my December sales were through Amazon. What's an eco-leftie like me to do?! Genuine question(s). Do we really want all our choices to come down to a mathematical formula? Maybe we're happy with that compromise? Maybe it's more efficient? Do we want our hard won cash for luxuries like CDs and books to go to a creative tax dodging beast? Even my local Coop has an Amazon locker pick-up facility!! The Coop for goodness sake. I am on one bit irate letter wind up starting this week I tell you. Edinburgh bookstores are fighting back with overt displays about being local stores who pay their taxes. But it's down to all of us eh? What do we do?”
I completely agree.
When it comes to buying books, I’ve been trying to avoid using Amazon and have been endeavouring to buy books from bookshops, secondhand bookstalls or from Green Metropolis. In pure money terms, I appreciate that this simply doesn’t make sense.
Take this recent example when I was purchasing our latest Book Group book:
I called in to Foyles bookshop in Quakers Friars, Bristol (which I LOVE).
They hadn’t got the book in stock but, if they HAD got it at the shop, it would have cost me £14.99 (list price).
They told me I could do one of three things: a) they could order it for me and I could collect it in 3-4 days (and, presumably, it would cost me £14.99?); b) I could go online and click on their “delivery” option – which would cost me £10.49 (free delivery); or c) I could go online and click on their “click and collect” option – which would cost me £12.74.
Isn’t this a depressing state of affairs? In other words, I could save £4.50 by simply avoiding use of my local store altogether!
When I expressed my frustration to one of the shop assistants (who are all quite wonderful, knowledgeable and helpful, by the way!), he was completely sympathetic… but shugged his shoulders in a way that seemed to say: “yes, we’re not going to be able carry on like this, are we”.
Of course, I could always have ordered it from Amazon (global domination and tax-avoidance aside, of course!) for just £6.30, with free delivery – a saving of a mere £8.69!!
Don’t get me wrong, I completely acknowledge Amazon’s efficiency (and convenience)… it’s just that we’ll end up losing so many of our local shops if we continue down this road.
As Karine Polwart says: “But it's down to all of us eh?”