Andi Cumbo - Writer, Editor, Online Writing Courses, Classes & Lessons

Disentangling Myself from Amazon

| 8 Comments

Let me begin by saying that I find Amazon’s new tactic of encouraging book buyers to visit local bookstores, use an Amazon app to compare prices, and then leave the bookstore to buy from Amazon – I find that abhorrent. That practice encourages people to not only forsake their local community members and economies but also tune into the worst parts of their nature by putting price above all other considerations as well as taking advantage of local stores’ merchandise and space to hurt the stores’ business. Horrible. Horrible.

(You can read Richard Russo’s clear and insightful indictment of this practice here Plus, Common Dreams has a great write-up on the various ways that independent booksellers are responding to this practice.)

Photo from http://ginnymichaels.blogspot.com

I have done my best to avoid business with Amazon for any number of reasons – mostly because I try very assiduously to support local bookstores. But right now, I am relying on Amazon in a big way, and this latest news makes me very conflicted about that. As many of you know, I’m using Kickstarter to raise funds for the research portion of my book. Kickstarter partners with Amazon business to track and collection contributions to their campaigns. Thus, I am supporting Amazon. I don’t like this.

However, I am committed to my book project, and I really could use this funding. Thus, I find myself in the same situation many writers do – Amazon works for us – getting us sales and funding – even while, on a larger scale, it undercuts our work and our community. So many of us use Amazon reviews to boost our sales. So many of us send our buyers to Amazon because, sometimes, it’s the easiest (and occasionally) only online listing for a book. So many of us look to Amazon for things like the images of book covers and quick table of contents searches. So many of us use Audible.com for audio books. Amazon has made itself a useful – almost pervasive – tool.

Thus, it will be difficult to do what I – and many others – are proposing we do. Boycott Amazon. As soon as my Kickstarter is over on Monday, my relationship with Amazon will cease. I will not set up the Audible account I had wanted to start. I will not use images from Amazon or link to reviews there. I will continue to buy my books elsewhere.

The hardest part of this boycott for me will be the way it limits my ability to support my friends and other fellow writers. I won’t be writing reviews for their books there anymore; I’ll take my reviews to Powells instead. I really don’t like this, but I think it’s the only way.

So I ask you to consider joining me in this boycott, if you feel so led. It’s not an easy choice, by any means, but then, noting worth fighting for comes easy. I think our local bookstores and the living wages of writers are worth fighting for.

What do you think of Amazon’s practices? How are they intertwined in your writing and reading life? What will you do with that relationship?

If you would like to support my book project but would rather not do so through Amazon, please email me at andilit_at_gmail.com. I’m thinking through other methods as we speak. Thanks.

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Author: Andi

I am a writer, editor, and writing teacher whose most recent book, The Slaves Have Names, tells the story of the people who were enslaved on the plantation where I was raised. When I'm not working, my husband and I are working to make our small farm - God's Whisper Farm - a retreat here at the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

  • http://mariannemchrisos.com Marianne

    I started boycotting Amazon about a year ago. It hasn’t made my life terribly difficult – there are thousands of internet markets, if that’s really what I need, and Amazon is just too much to put up with. The publishing industry needs it, sure, and I want them to have their place in that. But they are not the end-all, be-all of my consumer experience. In fact, as a consumer, I refuse to do business with them and I honestly feel like that’s the right thing for me.
    Marianne recently posted…Life After Graduation. Not my graduation.My Profile

    • http://www.andilit.com Andi

      I appreciate your perspective, Marianne. Mine is much the same. I don’t with them to go out of business or not support writers with reviews and Kickstarters. I just want them to understand clearly that these kind of practices are not acceptable. My voice is, I hope, some small part of reminding them of this fact.

  • http://darkontheprairie.wordpress.com Kansas Wiley

    I hadn’t heard about Amazon’s new app, but my reservations have existed for a long time. But then, I also go to the library or a brick-and-mortar video store when I want to rend a dvd, so I’m something of a throwback. Part of it involves supporting my local economy, but most of it comes from my belief in the value of face-to-face human contact. If I’m going to get a book recommendation, I want it to be from someone I know, or by reading an interview or recommendation from an author I respect. I want to walk into a physical space and touch physical books–paper and binding. I don’t want to lose that visceral connection for the sake or convenience or commerce. In some ways, that’s an easy call for me. I don’t have a manuscript or book I’m trying to publish or promote. I can see that this must be a much tougher choice for you. But when I do have work to promote (and I hope I will someday), I don’t want my success to be at the expense of the livelihoods of others. I wish you good luck as you move forward with your book project.
    Kansas Wiley recently posted…TVs on treadmillsMy Profile

    • http://www.andilit.com Andi

      I’m with you, Kansas, about everything. I, too, love the human interaction around books, and I definitely concur that “I don’t want my success to be at the expense of the livelihood of others.”

  • http://shawnsmucker.com Shawn Smucker

    I no longer buy books from Amazon for the reason you mention above, but I still use Createspace to self-publish my books (owned by Amazon). This also means my books are available for purchase on Amazon, and I’m not sure I’m ready to pull the plug on that.
    Shawn Smucker recently posted…Influence, Grace, and The Tough MudderMy Profile

    • http://www.andilit.com Andi

      I don’t blame you, Shawn. I don’t think an author can afford not to have their books on Amazon, actually. And I struggled hard to decide whether I’d boycott Kickstarter, too. Such good stuff there. . . I may end up changing my mind on that. We’ll see.

  • http://www.hygeiashearth.com Helen

    I’ve just discovered your blog and love your style! Great way to discuss without bashing or being hateful. I do a great deal of shopping at Amazon but they are not my first choice, only the best resource available to me. This may be the same situation you find yourself in while trying to publish your book. I homeschool my children and tend to spend a great deal of money on our home library. I build my lists, start with local used book sales, move on to betterworldbooks.com and always end with Amazon. I have found their selection and free shipping over the holidays to be invaluable. My husband is often deployed and it’s hard to get out and shop in secret with four kids. With that being said, I would never use their app to compare prices unless they included reimbursement for my market research services.

    • http://www.andilit.com Andi

      Helen, Thank you so much for reading and for the compliments. I certainly don’t fault anyone for shopping where they need to shop. Like you, though, I try other sources first. Better World is an amazing company, and I often find what I need there.

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