I will try to keep my cool while I write this post, but every time I discuss this topic I get red in the face and my blood pressure rises. You will probably see lots of all caps words. The passion I have for this topic makes me want to write this WHOLE POST in all caps, but I know how annoying that is to read, so I’ll try to be judicious in using all caps.
I’ve meant to talk for a while about why I don’t buy from Amazon and never will again, but the recent drop in the price of Kindle has prompted me to write this post. I’ll try to organize my thoughts, but it’s likely that they’ll be scattered. I fear that I won’t be able to accurately articulate my frustration, my fear, and my anger, but I’ll try.
While I might choose to shop at my local independent bookstore (and wish more pople did the same), ultimately I have no problem with people going to a big chain bookstore to purchase books. Even chain bookstores are INHERENTLY INTERESTED in the future of publishing. But if publishing went south tomorrow? Amazon wouldn’t even BAT AN EYE. THEY DO NOT CARE WHAT HAPPENS TO BOOKS.
Everyone knows that Amazon sells books at a deep, deep discount, particularly hardcovers, new releases, and bestsellers. Why would they do that? It’s not because they’re philanthropic. It’s because once they’ve got you at their store, there’s a good chance you’ll buy something that they DO make money on, i.e. electronics and other things they actually make money on. In business terms, this is called a loss leader. E-books have also been a loss leader for Amazon so it can “gain loyalty and market share.” So the industry that I’m so invested in, the industry that supplies my hobby, that makes me think outside of the box, that entertains me, that teaches me, that helps me connect with other people, that industry? Amazon would only care if books died because they’d have to find a new loss leader. That is not a company that has the best interests of publishing at its heart.
Amazon is a big bully.
You can read about the whole kerfluffle from Charles Stross and John Scalzi, but here’s the gist: Macmillan said, ‘We want you to charge x amount for our ebooks.’ Amazon said, ‘Fuck you. We want to charge less.’ Macmillan said, ‘No, these are our books, we think you’re setting an expectation with readers about ebook prices that we can’t sustain, and we want you to charge x amount for ebooks.’ Amazon’s response? Remove ALL THE BUY BUTTONS FROM ALL OF MACMILLANS titles. Effectively saying, Let’s see if we can make you do it OUR WAY by taking away your ability to sell your books through the biggest book retailer on earth.
HOW IS THAT OKAY?!!! Sure, I can let big companies duke it out, but I WILL NOT support a company that plays dirty (which is why I also don’t shop at WalMart).
This is a great article: The Trouble With Amazon. The article is well worth reading, but the part that made me recoil in horror is the story that one publisher has of trying to stand up to Amazon, refusing to give Amazon such a deep discount on books because it’s ILLEGAL. What did Amazon do?
“I was at the Book Expo in New York and two guys from Amazon came to see me. They said that the company was watching what we were doing and that they strongly advised us to get in line. I was shocked at how blatant the pressure was.” Within a couple of days Johnson noticed that the buy buttons for his books had been taken off Amazon’s site, making Melville’s titles unavailable.
WHY would I support a company that for all intents and purposes is a Mafia-like organization?
Last year at BEA I won a Kindle from GetGlue. Shortly after this MacMillan business went down, I gave the Kindle away because I couldn’t stomach supporting a company that I consider to be evil. Even reading free books off of their device seemed wrong.
I may someday buy a Nook or an iPad, but I will never ever buy a Kindle.
I mentioned that I won’t buy books or anything else at Amazon. The reason I was buying from Amazon before was because it was cheap and convenient. But I’ve decided that if I’m not going to support Amazon, then I AM going to support locally owned businesses or the actual business on the Internet that is supplying the ‘thing’ that I want to buy that I would have previously bought from Amazon. Guess what I’ve found? That buying locally/directly isn’t cost prohibitive for me. I paid $5 more for my messenger bag that I use every day by buying it directly from the supplier as opposed to ordering it from Amazon. $5 to me is nothing. It’s throwaway money. But to a business? That’s profit that I’m putting in A PERSON’S POCKET, as opposed to filling Amazon’s coffers. Supporting a person versus supporting a corporation? Do I really need to answer that?
And if I want an electronic device, I’ll go to Best Buy or Costco, but I don’t need cheap prices enough to turn a blind eye to what Amazon is doing. Nothing is worth that.
In this article titled In Defense of Amazon, said that Amazon is only providing people with what they want: cheaper products. But have we not learned that cheaper isn’t always better? And when has a company with as much power as Amazon has ever been a good thing?
You will not convince me that cheaper prices evolving the way Amazon has pushed the industry is beneficial to anyone.
I know that my not buying from Amazon and telling all my friends I won’t buy from Amazon won’t hurt them in the least. But I will not support what Amazon represents by buying books or anything else from them.
(Thanks to @KatherineBoG for helping solidify my opinions about Amazon.)