Boycotting Amazon (And Borders and B&N)

[[Warning Containing Rant]] I’m joining Dan in his Amazon crusade (see here and here), which basically means, I’m not selling books on there (I pulled all my for sale books down today from their site), and I’m not buy books from there (unless maybe there’s the one long lost used Quaker book I absolutely need and cannot find in any library or anywhere else). ((In actuality I have literally under 10 (new) books from Amazon out of my entire library)) I’m not one to be too dogmatic but I do think it’s about time to put my foot down on this. A while back Dan challenged me on my usage of Amazon affiliate links on my blog, a practice I never really felt great about but had my (somewhat justified) reasons for doing so. I make a decent amount of money on my blog every month from book sales and text-link-ads to help defray the cost of my school book budget, so while I pretty much never buy new books from Amazon, I felt that making a little cash off a sale wasn’t a bad deal. But then he showed me that you can do the affiliate links elsewhere (Powell’s) and so I decide to stop link to Amazon books. ((At this point I don’t think I am going to go back through all of my old posts and remove my amazon affiliate links just because that would take a ridiculous amount of time. But all new links will be affiliate links to Powell’s or non-affiliate links elsewhere.))

So that’s part one. Part two is really the point of my boycott.

If you’ve ever watched “The Trip” on Six Feet Under from season one, you’ll have a good picture of what I’m about to say: it’s the episode where David and Nate go to the funeral home director’s conference and it’s completely vacant just reminding them of how difficult a situation their own family (funeral) business is in. The other day my boss (I work at an independent bookstore), during our weekly staff meeting, told us about the recent Independent Bookseller’s conference that happened in LA last week. This annual conference is a chance for indie booksellers to get together, buy some cheap books, go to workshops and stay up on the latest and greatest. It’s usually a big deal. Except this year. My boss said it was an absolute ghost-town. She said, there just aren’t any independent bookstores left. Problem is everyone’s going out of business due to the big corporate booksellers, especially big bad Amazon (my words not hers). She also said that the keynote was by some big whig at Amazon, are you kidding me (this is the same exact thing that happened in the SFU episode)?! She also told us that (some of) the publishers are now realizing just how guilty they are in this whole thing (now they see they’ve created a monster).

See publishers have been cutting Amazon “sweetheart deals” for sometime, that is they’ve been giving Amazon discounts (10-15% extra) that they would never give an independent bookstore. This was because of the bulk Amazon could push. But of course, in the process, they’ve helped to run these small bookshops out of town. Plus, they’ve created their own little Frankenstein. Well, the trouble is now Frankenstein wants to control the print-on-demand business as well (which is increasingly becoming more popular), so if you’re a publisher and you don’t let Amazon run your print on demand for you, there’s a real good chance they’ll just decide not to sell your books online. The tables have turned. Now the publishers need amazon, just as much as the dying independent bookstores needed help from the publishers to ward off the evil giant.

So at our little religious bookstore we too have been loosing more money every year and things aren’t getting any better (I wish I had a dollar for every time a student or customer came into our bookstore and told other customers to get all their books on Amazon, I might actually be able to help the business out a little more!). We keep wondering how long we’ll be around, or what it’s going to take to turn the corner. We’ve been cutting hours, and trying to carry different types of stock that people can’t buy on Amazon (which is very little). It’s sad because both my bosses have been at this for more than 20 years, and they’re really good at it. Our bookstore is one of the best theological bookstores in the US, no joke. And hearing their story about this past weekend really drove it home for me.

So if you’re the kind of person that really digs books, and likes your local bookshops, boycott Amazon and the other corporates as well. If you do buy your books online check out these instead:

Local bookstores for those of you in Pasadena:

Bookstores suggested by GL readers:

[Post edited Monday June 9th 8am]