Amazon has been revealed to be behind a mystery £250,000 ($310,000) donation to a charity that supports independent booksellers in the UK and Ireland.
The company made the donation after booksellers appealed for funds to help the industry through the coronavirus crisis. Many nonessential businesses, such as bookshops, have closed during the pandemic.
The crowd-fund was set up by individuals from the London Review Bookshop, Picador and Daunt Books to support The Book Trade Charity, which provides help to those who are working or have worked in the industry. The charity gives money to companies in the book selling, publishing, distribution and printing businesses.
It has racked up more than £68,000 ($84,000) in public donations. The Booksellers Association has pledged to donate £30,000 ($37,000) and publisher Penguin Random House has pledged £50,000 ($62,000).
On Friday, the charity received the surprise £250,000 ($310,000) boost.
Dan Hicks, chief executive of The Book Trade Charity, confirmed to CNN Thursday that Amazon was the mystery benefactor.
“Bookshops have had a difficult time over the past few years. There’s been a resurgence in recent years but they have the problems of all high street shops – they have competition, and [those who set up the crowd fund] felt a blow like this could be more than some shops could take,” Hicks told CNN.
He said he received a phone call from Amazon offering the donation directly to the organizers, rather than through the fundraising page, with the company telling him it would like to keep the donation “low key.”
While Amazon, a major seller of books, has faced criticism for the role it has played in disrupting the market, Hicks said he welcomed the donation.
“Receiving half our annual income, on top of our annual income, is a tremendous boost for the work that we can do,” he added.
Later Thursday, Amazon confirmed the donation in a statement. “We can confirm we have made a donation to the Book Trade Charity’s relief fund for independent bookshops,” a spokesman said.