34. The 'Todos tus libros' platform

My eye has been caught in the last few days by an initiative started in Spain to protect local bookshops. The idea is simple and can be extended to any other industries. It aims to address the short term cash problem that independent bookshops can have due to the fact that they are currently closed and therefore can’t generate revenues, whilst still needing to pay most of their bills, especially as government help is there theoretically in some cases, but can be harder or more complex to access than would be ideal. ‘Todos tus libros’, which means ‘All your books’ allows you to spend money now with your bookshop, which you can then redeem for any books later, once they are back open. This is a great idea. It seems obvious, like all great ideas. It could save many retailers (and other companies) during these difficult times, if they have the support of their communities. And consumers should really support it, unless we want to come back to a World of large chains and internet shopping

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Comments

Niccy said…
This is, indeed, a very logical and practical idea. I have been trying to convince some very small, very local businesses to let me do exactly this since I VERY MUCH want them to be around and available when this quarantine period ends, but I know full well that they are unable to provide their services at the moment and thus have no practical means of supporting themselves to ensure their survival. This seems all the more important to me, since I am in a position to need their services (now, and in the future) AND I have the means to support the need. As I keep saying, the cash in the economy has not gone, it is just stopped flowing or flowing differently. If we want to avoid a future of mega-chains and internet shopping we need to find ways of flowing the cash to these small businesses. I would love to be able to thank the people in my village who are helping me out by treating them now to a meal in a local restaurant - to be cashed in at a time in the future when they are open and my neighbour is able to go.
JoaquĆ­n said…
This is a very good idea indeed! Thank you for sharing, Santi.

The problem I see here is that most communities already abandoned their local bookshops and rest of non-chain businesses long ago in favor of Amazon and other internet services, which are easier and faster but also impersonal. I really like the initiative, but I am also not very positive that it will make a real change in the situation because most people stopped supporting local businesses long before this crisis started...

Hope I am wrong, though! :-)
Sandra K. said…
I have always loved shopping in local boutique shops, be it a bookshop, personal care products shop, deli or garden centre. Doing my best to support them but I find it difficult at times as most of them don’t even have a decent website, forget about online ordering, having to call them several times for 1 order...they don’t make it easy for the customers...I’m definitely there to support small businesses but they really need to catch up with technology...
SantiDominguezV said…
Niccy, yes, I think you are absolutely right about the cash flowing differently. In fact, there is more cash in the economy, if anything, due to all the government lending announced. Unfortunately, most of it we are probably going to see flowing to a few hands (the sovereign debt lenders and asset purchasers), which is the problem with all these crises. You could set up a similar platform locally, but I tried this in my village weeks ago, to support the only shop we have, which is amazing as it opens 7 days per week, from 8.00 til 8.00, saving everyone a 6 mile drive to town, and found very little support. Solidarity is not a very common value these days, neoliberal values have been peddled for a very long time.
SantiDominguezV said…
You are absolutely right, Joaquin. This is an ongoing process, which is evolving differently in different locations. In most US and UK locations, it is very advanced, in Spain in the cities maybe a bit less so, but still advancing. Some boutique type shops, organic specialists, etc., are rising from the rubble, but we need many more. For these small businesses to survive and thrive, they need to be competitive, well organise and offer something different, but they also need our support, sometimes if it costs us a bit more, whilst they work out what that business model is.

Like with most things, very difficult to do anything about it by yourself, critical mass is needed
SantiDominguezV said…
Sandra, I also agree with you. This lockdown has really tested the modern business capacities of many small businesses. If you look at it in darwinian terms, adapt or die. But this is not biological evolution, we have a choice as to what we want to survive, as a community. I feel that we should be more patient and forgiving with small businesses which have found themselves in a situation they did not plan for, with little resources and knowledge and no time to adapt. How much inconvenience or overprice should each of us endure to help them through, and how many chances we should give them? That is a personal choice.

But... we should imagine a future without all these small businesses and think whether we like it, before we are too unforgiving...

xx
Ben said…
There's an online book and music seller in the UK that is a bit of an antidote to Amazon - The Hive. They ask you to choose a local independent seller who receives money from your purchase. I'm not sure if it is a collective, or quite how it works, but at least you would not be lining Jeff Bezos' pockets.
SantiDominguezV said…
Hi, Ben, thank you for pointing that out, I will definitely check out The Hive, it sounds like a worthwhile platform should a local bookseller still exist. As for Bezos, his pockets these days are mainly lined by data management and Amazon Web Services and providing an environment for cloud applications to run on. They do this very well and is growing very fast, so he should not even miss your book money, you don't even have to have a poor Jeff Bezos on your conscience!

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