"Since locally the independent bookstores disappeared with the rise of the big chain bookstores, long before Amazon was around, it never occurred to me to blame Amazon for that loss."
Me neither. I would have blamed the chains before I'd blame Amazon. It's been possible to sell through Amazon for a long time, so some of the more savvy, smaller shops have been able to supplement their in-store sales that way.
"Ironically, despite having more space, the chain stores had a substantially worse selection than the indie stores, so when Amazon came along, it was the clearly superior option, so I can see Amazon taking away the chain store business."
Coming from small-town America, my experience has been the opposite. Having the chains move in was great! No longer did I have to go into a seedy place that had more jack-off material and detective novels than anything else. Before the chains moved in, I was pretty much stuck with the library. The library introduced me to Heinlein, Asimov, and Clarke, but their sci-fi collection outside of that was terrible. Then came B. Dalton. I could go to a well-lit mall instead of, well, the place in a crappy part of town where people went to get Hustler, High Society, and their rolling papers. Before B&N moved in to the local college town, there was the campus bookstore, a place close to campus which was severely overpriced, and a place that sold used books for higher than retail. Nowaday, I can even get out-of-print books, within seconds, on my Kindle without paying the Quirky Used Book Store premium and without having to chat with the weird cat lady behind the counter.
Granted, I can't get a coffee from Amazon, which is the nice thing about a bookshop.