It’s been a couple of months now since I’ve ordered anything from Amazon. Depending on your own level of Amazon usage, this may seem unremarkable or kicking-the-caffeine-habit impossible. Somehow, I managed without therapy, a 12-step program, or a patch. 🙂
Obviously, I despise the circumstances under which I decided to stop buying from Amazon, but when I remove the context, I’m sort of glad it happened. For so long, my response to “Oh, I need X,” was “Go to Amazon.” I’m sure many of you were/are the same. (And, of course, this is exactly what Amazon wants us to do — go to them without thinking.)
Without Amazon, I’ve been forced be a little more resourceful. I’ve scouted local places for those little knickknacks and household items that I used to just toss into my cart along with whatever else I was buying. I’ve spent those extra few seconds (or, horrors!, minutes) online, looking for another place to buy this or that.
I was originally going to say that I’ve returned to the status quo ante, to those days before Amazon became an all-encompassing shopping cart. But that’s not true. Back in those days, there was a lot of flipping through the Yellow Pages and calling places ahead of time, lest I waste time going there, only to find they didn’t carry what I needed.
These days, Amazonless, it’s a matter of skimming down a couple more links on a Google page. (Maybe even — horrors! — clicking through to the mysterious Page Two of results!) It’s a matter of typing my interest into Maps to see what pops up near me. Not quite as easy as just typing “Amazon.com” into Safari, but not onerous at all.
I’m sure that I’ve ended up paying a little bit more here and there, especially for shipping. And in some cases, I’ve had to be patient, as an item took — dear God! — up to 72 hours to arrive. Three whole days! How did I survive?1
In the meantime, I’ve discovered some fun little stores, both online and not.
I’m not calling for a boycott of Amazon. At no point have I called for a boycott of Amazon, actually. But on a personal level, I cannot spend money at a store that is actively wrecking my career. “With great power comes great responsibility” may be a platitude that came from a comic Stan Lee wrote in an afternoon, but it’s no less true for its slapdash origins.2 Yes, haters, Hachette is part of an enormous company. But Amazon controls more than half of the book sales in the country. Hachette doesn’t. It behooves Amazon to comport itself with some level of responsibility to readers, its customers, by not punishing them for the squabble with one of its suppliers.
Often, when labor and management find themselves at an impasse, they continue to work under the terms of the previous contract until a new one can be hammered out. A strike is a last resort and no one is eager for it. Not authors. Not publishers. Not…
Well, I can’t speak for Amazon. Because…
A good friend of mine worked in book publishing for well over twenty years and dealt with Amazon for much of that time. According to him, Amazon’s nuclear missile is their immediate go-to option. “Whenever we would have a disagreement with them,” he said, “they would threaten to take away the Buy button.”
That’s not a mature, responsible, customer-friendly business model. It’s adolescent. It is — almost literally — “I’ll take my ball and go home.” And now, hilariously, they’re trying to buy friends, a tactic I thought everyone grew out of in grade school, when handing out homemade cookies could turn the tides of childhood society.
Shop with Amazon or don’t, according to the dictates of your conscience. But don’t let yourself think for an instant that you don’t have a choice, that Amazon offers products or services no one else does. You might have to look around for five more minutes. You might have to set up a new login somewhere. You might spend ten cents more. But you can go Amazonless.