Amazon has surprised the literary industry by donating £250,000 to a fund meant to help bookshops hit by coronavirus.
According to the Book Trade Charity, the online retail giants had at first made the donation on a “low-key” basis, but speculation over a big name donor forced the charity to reveal Amazon’s offer.
Chief executive David Hicks realised some booksellers may find the offer jarring, but the fund is to help booksellers facing financial hardship after being forced to close by the pandemic, and the offer wouldn’t be turned down.
Mr Hicks said: “Amazon came to us and said they would like to put some money into our fund, particularly to help at this time and that they would prefer it to be low-key.” But the policy only led to further questions, especially after The Bookseller, ran a story about a big name donor who had contributed £250,000 of the £380,000 raised so far.
Mr Hicks said he had been “very pleased” to accept the donation in the interests of the charity but he was “conscious that that does give a little bit of difficulty to some booksellers”.
“A large part of the trade, particularly on the publishing side, works very closely with Amazon, but the bookselling side does have rather a more strained relationship.”
Multibillionaire Jeff Bezos donated £250,000 to the Book Trade Charity
Some may also feel a tad bitter about the donation because it comes just before it was announced that Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, has seen his wealth increase by £19bn (billion) since the coronavirus pandemic hit. So although the donation itself was welcome, perhaps while remembering the damage done to the bookselling industry and Bezos’ insane wealth, it is accepted with a cynical side-eye.