I just moved across the country and into a tiny little studio that I share with my fella. We didn’t have anything except some clothes and a few kitchen items when we got here so we had to buy everything else. A rug. A duvet cover. A table and two folding chairs. A mattress (foam) and finally, a bed frame. We didn’t buy all of these things at the same time. And we didn’t buy them on Amazon.
Unless you’ve been living with your head in the sand for the past few weeks, you know that Amazon is (finally) in some hot water over their sleazy business practices. They are having a dispute with a publisher (Hachette) and they aren’t playing very nice. Amazon is demanding that Hachette sell their ebooks to Amazon at a lower price than Hachette thinks is fair. So Amazon is responding the only way a business like Amazon can: bullying.
Purchasing any Hachette title next to impossible, or not available at all. Through Amazon, that is. You can walk into just about any bookstore and walk out with whatever book you want. Live and in person. You don’t have to wait 24 hours, or 3-4 weeks if you wanted a JK Rowling book. Amazon has even gone as for as limiting your choices. They won’t let you buy certain books. Amazon recommends other titles (from other publishers) that will make them more money. Amazon cherry picks the publishers and titles they promote giving the consumer a false sense of satisfaction. You bought something, so who cares if it isn’t exactly what you wanted? And this isn’t the first time. They’ve been doing this type of thing for years. You just didn’t notice and Amazon prefers it that way.
But it’s more than just shitty business practices. Amazon is hurting the way we live. Folks here in Seattle have turned a blind eye to the slippery dealings of Amazon because they like the convenience of having everything they can think of delivered to their door step. It’s mostly just lazy. If you can’t be bothered to go to the store and pick out your own veggies, then maybe you need to reevaluate your situation. And what if your grocery store all of the sudden decided that you can’t have apples? You walk in and they say, “Oh, we have apples, but they won’t be available to you for at least 3-4 weeks. How about some nice pears instead?” You’d be pissed. And rightly so.
So why aren’t you pissed that Amazon is using sneaky business tactics to control what you read and how you shop? Folks here in Seattle love to talk about “Shopping Local” and “being Green”, but I challenge them to put their money where their bumper stickers are. You don’t get to call yourself “green” and “community minded” when you order everything from cilantro to slip covers in just a few clicks from one web site. You are NOT supporting local businesses. And you certainly are not Green. And do you know what Amazon pays the nice folks who work in their warehouses? You should.
Shopping for your food (or books!) in person gives you a connection to what you buy. When you walk into my bookstore and ask ANY bookseller for a recommendation, you’ll get one. We love to tell people what to read. We live for it. The recommendations you get from Amazon are computer generated and based on what Amazon wants to sell to you. Not what you actually want to buy. The only difference between shopping with Amazon and shopping with Wal-mart is perception. Wal-mart has been outed. We know how they operate. Hopefully the veil on Amazon is being lifted and we will all be able to see that the man behind the curtain isn’t a wizard at all. Just a greedy little man with a nation full of minions.