When I’m not on a book buying ban, I buy a lot of books. Actually, scrap that, I buy a lot of books full stop. At the start of my blogging and reading journey, I would always buy books from Amazon, no matter what. It offered the cheapest prices, and it allowed me to buy some international releases that weren’t available in the UK yet. However, over the last couple of years I have slowly been weaning myself off of Amazon, because I just don’t agree with its methods.
Over the years, it has become more and more clear that Amazon is a dodgy company that only cares about money, not about their employees, publishers, or authors. The first major issue I discovered about Amazon was the fact that they had systems in place to avoid paying UK taxes. This was enough to turn me off from buying from the website, although it took some self control.
There have been stories upon stories about how poorly Amazon treats their employees. Staff are expected to work without sleep, while suffering from illnesses and diseases, and it is said that they are expected to turn on each other to get ahead and earn their employers’ favour.
Again, not a company that I wanted to support. Those things, along with hearing about bookshops across the US that are being forced to close down, finally got through to me and made me sit back and think about what I was supporting when I bought from Amazon.
In 2013, I got a job, and that’s when I started to slowly wean myself off of Amazon. Unfortunately, that was too little, too late for my local bookshop, which closed down just a month after my job began. That spurred me on even more, and now I can happily say that – aside from the odd purchase if I can’t find the product (NOT books) anywhere else – I am Amazon-free. And I’m proud of it!
So what are the alternatives for book lovers? Well, here in the UK (and in a few other places in Europe) there is this wonderful chain called Waterstones. They tend to price match their books with Amazon, and they offer free delivery on orders over £10. The same as Amazon. You can order online, or you can walk into a store and browse. If the store doesn’t have the book you’re looking for, they can order it either to the store or directly to your home. You can also order online to have the book(s) delivered to the store, which you can then go and pick up. A great option if you’re planning on going into town and don’t want to wait!
Other options are W H Smith (not a personal favourite, I must admit), and The Works, which often sells boxsets for fairly cheap and their 3 for £5 section is heavenly. The town across from mine recently had an indie bookstore open, and while I haven’t been to browse yet, I’m planning on doing so soon! And then there are the charity shops which often offer books for as little as 10p. Note: Book Depository seems like a good option but it is actually owned by Amazon… so yeah. I also avoid buying from there, and if I’m doing an international giveaway then BD will be my last port of call. I would rather get the books delivered to myself first, and then ship them on through the post office.
All that said, I would never judge anyone who buys from Amazon. It’s none of my business, and of course not everyone can either afford to buy from alternative stores, and not everyone is able to get to a store. Amazon is a huge convenience for some people. It certainly was for me, when I was unemployed for years and unable to used public transport to get to civilisation (I live in a small village). I’m not here to brag or to look down my nose at anyone who uses Amazon. I just wanted to bring a couple of things to your attention, and perhaps offer a couple of alternatives that you might not be aware of.
As for my plans for the future and how I see my relationship with Amazon going, I want to completely cut off from the site in 2016. My mum still buys from Amazon because she can’t afford other options for a lot of products, but I’m lucky enough to have a decent wage where I can spend a couple more pounds on books and other items.
How do you view Amazon? Do you avoid it at all costs, or are you generally okay with buying from there? No judgement, I promise!