Today is the first day of Amazon Prime Day. This “day” is actually a two day event where Amazon Prime members can buy massively discounted products. But, should you buy into it? The answer is a resounding “NO!” Instead of adding to Jeff Bezo’s divorce bounce-back fund, support stores and people that actually care about you, such as independent bookstores. Although the reasons for this are endless, here are just three.
Indie bookstores care about you
No algorithm can figure out what new book you’ll love the way an actual person can. It was people at Warwick’s bookstore in La Jolla, CA who first introduced me to reading and book reviewing. Without their endless encouragement and enthusiasm for reading, I have no idea where I would be today. Almost every single one of my childhood favorites was recommended to me by someone in the store. Now I live in New York, where I can always trust the Golden Notebook in Woodstock for advice on anything– from books to life.
Amazon exploits authors, publishers, workers, and YOU!
Jeff Bezos earns $36,000 per minute. His workers earn $15 per hour. If that doesn’t scare you, think about how Amazon avoided $504 million in sales taxes in 2015. The corporation accounts for 1/3 of book sales, but routinely bullies publishers like Hachette, whose books they made unusually difficult to buy. Judy Blume, Sherman Alexie, Jennifer Egan, and other popular authors have authored letters to the United States Justice Department saying Amazon, “used its dominance in ways that we believe harm the interests of America’s readers… [and] damage the careers of (and generate fear among) many authors.”
Meanwhile, independent bookstores help your local community flourish by encouraging active engagement through author events, school book fairs, book clubs, and more. And, at the very least, bookstores pay taxes, something Amazon has not done in two years.
You can see your favorite authors IRL– not just through a screen
My local bookstore, The Golden Notebook, has worked with authors such as Joyce Carol Oates, Neil Gaiman, Colm Toibin, Cheryl Strayed, Andre Dubus III, and Lydia Davis. Some authors, such as Oates, even have annual events at the store.
One of my favorite childhood memories was going to an event with Brian Selznick at the San Diego Natural History museum, courtesy of my favorite local bookstore, Warwick’s. That’s an experience that’s impossible to replicate online, no matter how many videos or interviews you read. Not to mention, many stores such as Blue Bicycle Books in Charleston, SC hold annual book festivals where you can meet tons of authors at once.
There’s no downside to independent bookstores, so to find an indie bookstore to support close to you, check out my Bookstore Tour of the United States.