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Amazon Should Leave Brick-And-Mortar To The Little Guys, & Other Whinging

22537164217_77cc6767e1_hThe news of Amazon opening a bookstore in Boston has inspired a new, whinier type of griping we had not encountered when news broke of the stores in Seattle, San Diego, and Chicago.

The whinging points to a type of insecurity that has less to do with Amazon than with self-doubt.

Writing for the NPR station in Boston, 

He starts the piece with a demand that Amazon stay out of b&m bookselling because that is the turf of indie bookstores (sounds great, so long as they stay off Amazon’s turf – the web) before going on to invent a list of Amazon’s supposed misdeeds:

As a former bookseller myself, I lament these events. Must Amazon nose in on the very territory that indie bookstores have cultivated for decades? In less generous moods, I complain to the heavens — or, perhaps, to “the cloud” — when is enough, enough? Can’t you be satisfied with dominating online sales?

If you recall, the online giant already has several notches on its belt. It jump-started the decline of retail shopping in general, and independent bookstores in particular. But not just the indies: The bankruptcy of Borders in 2011 has been largely attributed to the rise of Amazon, and their “aggressive discounting of books online,” according to Fortune. It rules self-publishing markets and has begun to publish its own titles, not to mention Amazon’s forays into financing its own movie and TV content.

The piece is over 1,500 words long, but I won’t quote it here. The whinging is too annoying.

Instead I wanted to comment on the assumptions in this piece and pieces like it. What gets me about the Amazon whinging  are the subset of detractors that complain about Amazon from the assumption that this is the detractors' market, and their customers, and that big bad Amazon is coming in to steal everything.

There’s a subtext of possessiveness and defensiveness which lies at odds with reality.

News flash: the market doesn’t belong to anyone, and the customers aren’t sheeple to be claimed as property.

Should a bookstore close down after an Amazon Books moves into the area,  Amazon won’t be guilty of stealing the market. Instead, customers will have voted with their pocketbook.

Customers will have decided that they prefer Amazon’s prices and customer service over that of Amazon’s competition.

And that is the unspoken subtext for the piece I quoted from.

Booksellers who attack Amazon like the one I quoted are secretly afraid that Amazon is better at customer service than they are, that Amazon will steal away customers.

That may or may not be the case, but what with Amazon now charging non-Prime members list price in its bookstores, booksellers have a lot less to worry about.

image by SounderBruce

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PRS November 1, 2016 um 11:57 pm

Barristas United requests the United States Department of Justice Antitrust Division investigate bookstores containg coffee shops for illegal anticompetive competion with indepedent coffee shops.

PS We are sending this overnight via Fed-Ex

Sergegobli November 2, 2016 um 4:19 pm

I guess if you had to make a living wage from your blog to survive you’d be more understanding.

Nate Hoffelder November 2, 2016 um 4:49 pm


Up until about March this blog was my day job. Now it is one of my two day jobs.

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