Oxfam accused of damaging independents

<p>The charity Oxfam has been accused of being the &quot;Tesco of the second-hand book world&quot; and driving bookshops out of business.</p><p>The <em>Guardian</em> reports that with 120 specialist bookshops across the UK, Oxfam has become the largest retailer of second-hand books in Europe. The Provincial Booksellers Fairs Association, which represents nearly 600 second-hand booksellers, said that the charity has advantages normal businesses cannot match. It has an 80% reduction in business rates, like other charities, and mostly employs volunteers. </p><p>Chairman Peter Moore said: &quot;Oxfam has opened bookshops all over the country and there is a great deal of ill feeling among second-hand booksellers about what the charity is doing.</p><p>&quot;Oxfam is a worthwhile cause but they are now acting more like a business than a charity and that is a concern.</p><p>&quot;There is a feeling they are taking trade away from second-hand bookshops that may be just a few yards away. Many people have worked in the industry for decades but are now finding it difficult to compete.&quot;</p><p>Marc Harrison closed his Salisbury bookshop, Ellwood Books, last week after he realised he could not compete with the nearby Oxfam. He said: &quot;I held on until now but just couldn&#39;t keep going. Oxfam is the Tesco of the second-hand book world. It is destroying the industry. Half our business is rare old editions but in a recession people aren&#39;t buying so many. So we pay our bills from the sale of &pound;2 paperbacks or hardbacks for under &pound;5, and Oxfam has destroyed that.&quot;</p><p>Suzy Smith, Oxfam books project manager, said: &quot;For some individual shops, a high street business has become unviable. While it is true that our shops get a reduction in rates on the high street, we pay the same as everyone else for rent, electricity, heating, which are bigger costs than rates. Of course, all the money raised goes to help our lifesaving work around the world.&quot;</p>