Originally Posted June 27, 2014. EDIT (8/20/2015) with this disclaimer: The views in this post do not reflect my employer, friends, family, NYC homeless population, my imaginary cat, or The Doctor.
Breakups are hard. The phrase “emotional wreck” comes to mind. On the other hand, some break ups are inevitable and maybe even mutual. Both parties are at a crossroad where their ideas and goals do not mesh. At some point it is best to move on. Unfortunately, I’ve reached this point with Amazon.
I used to be all “Team Consumer,” where I could not ignore the great prices that Amazon tempted me with on a day to day basis. Ordering books was an impulse decision brought on by flashy marketing and the just-low-enough price point. “Must-get-the-book-right-now-no-matter-what” was my mantra. If I didn’t have to leave the comfort of my laptop, all the better. The shipment arrived two days later and I was back to ordering cheap e-books and mugs.
And since I was in a publishing graduate program, I was reluctant to listen to the bad things that Amazon has done to publishers, basically pushing them to their will (Why can’t Amazon use EPUB like everyone else?). I kept thinking, Amazon is not that bad, Amazon wouldn’t purposefully make things difficult! Never! A staunch defender of something I didn’t truly understand. Now I feel guilty for buying from them.
From now on, I’m making a conscious effort not to use Amazon. I’m downloading my impulse purchase e-books from iBooks, I’m unsubscribing from Amazon emails, and I no longer check the best-seller lists. It is quite an effort, I assure you. My typical post-breakup habits include becoming obsessed with my former significant other’s movements, stalking his social media sites, and constantly thinking about ways to interact with him (just me?). There’s an urge I wasn’t expecting from this separation of “buy, buy, buy.” (Something about wanting what you can’t have…) The lure of Amazon! Their ever present “Buy with One Click” button or their insanely low prices make me itch with shopping mania. I have to make an effort to remember why I’m breaking up with them in the first place.
Amazon is not a good company. They might draw consumers in like a moth to a flame, but for publishers (and other media, etc.) Amazon has been a bully, using scare tactics into forcing publishers to sell books, e-books specifically, at lower prices. The latest dispute is with Amazon vs. Hachette Book Group, which publishes authors like James Patterson, Nicholas Sparks, and Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling). Read this article by Carolyn Kellog from the LA Times for an informative and quick read about what is going on. Amazon’s business decisions are poor, to say the least. By supporting them I am saying, I care more about cheap books/products than I do about healthy businesses and the publishing industry. By supporting them, authors are at risk to lose part of their income (since Amazon is the largest bookseller, making up 31% of the market share). Also important to note: Amazon knows exactly what they are doing and will do this with all publishers.
As a publishing professional I cannot ignore what Amazon has been doing and will continue to do. The president of my own company sent an email when the Hachette/ Amazon dispute started suggesting we buy books from places other than Amazon because the Hachette pricing dispute could very well come to our company. That’s a pretty surreal thing to think about.
So like any breakup I have stopped using things that remind me of my former flame; my Kindle Fire is the most valuable thing I’ll lose. I am looking into getting a Nook Glowlight.
I’m not sure I have a heart to completely delete my account (so many e-books would be lost!). Time will tell, but I know for sure that I will be supporting bookstores from now on. It’s a small gesture and needs to be done. I know it is worth it.