Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Amazon Ugh... (and a SALE)
It has come to our notice that a serious discussion about AMAZON.COM's retail practices has been occurring in the media -- most notably by a group of befuddled authors, who have teamed up with Richard Russo in a recent NY Times Op-Ed article. If you have not yet read it, I wholeheartedly recommend it. Written by the great author, Richard Russo, with some help from his friends Stephen King, Dennis Lehane, Andre Dubus III, Anita Shreve, Tom Perrotta and Ann Patchett, it outlines Amazon's jarringly devious retail practices and their nonplussed attitudes toward the Mega-Retailer -- despite the fact that a considerable amount of their incomes comes from book sales via Amazon. In a nutshell it says this: this Holiday season, Amazon is encouraging its customers to go into real-life, physical bookstores and use its price-check app, which allows shoppers to (rather invasively) scan items' bar codes to see if they can get a better price on these items online. If customers do this, they earn a 5 percent credit on Amazon purchases, up to $5 per item, on up to three items. And this is terrible.
As a small, local bookstore, we realize that we cannot outfox Amazon where pricing is concerned, but, like these authors, ask at what cost such brash market-monopolization does to us culturally and economically. As Andre Dubus III puts it in the article, we feel that at the very least, it works to “further devalue, as a cultural and human necessity, the book” itself by taking away your local contact to them, not to mention its hemorrhaging of local jobs from local retailers. I think we can all agree that saving a couple of bucks is great, but seeing "For Rent" signs on every downtown window is not. We encourage you to think about the long-term impact such shopping has on already-suffering stores, and what small towns will look like without them. Amazon, clearly, does not care about these stores, the jobs the bring, or the important roles they fill in the communities nationwide, and in fact, has shown again and again that would rather completely wipe them off of the map, using such devious practices as the one outlined above. This is a passionate topic for us and we'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter, for or against. Without a doubt, it's a conversation that needs to be had in every community, rural or metropolitan, nationwide.
One last thing: Don't forget about Cyber Wednesdays on the Liberty Bay Books website with 30% of all items (except e-books) on all online orders taken on the Wednesdays before Christmas (December 14 and December 21). Take that Amazon.