Amazon lockers blamed in indie closure

Amazon lockers blamed in indie closure

Two bookshops have announced they are due to close this summer due to rising competition from the internet, unaffordable council rates and the devaluing of physical books. A partnership between retailer Amazon and Co-operative food stores for the use of Amazon lockers has also been given as a reason for one closure.

Hale Bookshop in Cheshire will shut at the end of this month (31st August) after 40 years, leaving the town without a bookshop. Meanwhile the Ibis bookshop in Banstead, Surrey, will close in two months' time.

Hale Bookshop co-owner Lynne McManus first worked in the bookshop 13 years ago and loved it so much that she and her husband David decided to buy it when it was put up for sale six years ago. But the recession, an increase in business rates, the growth of online shopping and the rise of e-books, put multiple pressures on the shop.

McManus said: "I was working at the bookshop and I loved it, it was a really busy little bookshop. It wasn't doing great when we took it over but we kept expecting the recession to end and we didn't think the Kindle and e-books were going to take off – hindsight is a wonderful thing. I blame the Kindle and the recession, books are being devalued. Everyone expects books to be discounted now - people see them as cheap items and they do not want to pay full price for them."

McManus also hit out at The Co-operative food stores for partnering with her biggest online threat – Amazon – to carry the company's lockers in their stores. The partnership means Amazon customers can order goods online and have them sent to their local co-operative to collect after work. "Now the Co-op across the road actually has bright yellow Amazon lockers in it, so customers can go and pick their orders up from there after work," McManus said. "I am angry about it, I do not see why a shop like the Co-op is getting in with Amazon, it seems to be totally against what they stand for and its ethics - valuing the high street and community - when online websites are destroying the community. I know that customers who used to shop at us now shop at Amazon instead."

A spokesperson for the Co-operative Group told The Bookseller the Amazon lockers were now situated in 160 stores across the UK and were "part of a nationwide initiative to give customers a convenient alternative to home delivery." The spokesperson added: "The Co-operative is constantly looking for new and innovative ways to improve the services we offer, and we are listening to our customers and adapting our services to meet their changing needs. The lockers have generally been well received, but we acknowledge some customers' concerns." The Hale bookshop will stay open until 31st August, offering a 50% discount off all stock. McManus said: "The nearest bookshop to us is now in the next town, it's a Waterstones in Altringham. We don't have a bookshop in our town anymore."

Meanwhile the Ibis Bookshop in Banstead, Surrey, has revealed it will be closing its doors for good in two months time after 75 years of trading from its place on Banstead high street. Its owner Linda Jones blamed the "monopoly" of Amazon for putting independent bookshops out of business, and the local council for increasing local rates for small, struggling businesses.