“Would You Stop Buying Books from Amazon.com to Save the Black Book Industry?”

Exploring The Feasibility Boycotting Amazon’s Bookstore

In the following video, Ruth J. Morrison, CEO and Executive Producer, What’s The 411TV; and I discuss Amazon’s adverse effect on the “Black Book Ecosystem” (Black writers, printers, booksellers, distributors, marketers, readers, etc) and how the algorithms of digital search has hurt Black-owned websites.

Perhaps the salvation of the Black Book Ecosystem may lies in Black people abandoning Amazon’s bookstore and using our own resources…

The reality is that Amazon’s adverse impact on the book industry transcends any niche, however, you know the saying, “When white folks catch a cold, Black folks get pneumonia.”

Several weeks ago I conducted a survey in which I asked the following question:

“Would You Stop Buying Books from Amazon.com to Save the Book Industry?”

The question was not limited to just the Black book ecosystem, but the entire industry.  Many took this to mean mainstream publishing.

For the sake of clarity, boycotting Amazon’s bookstore is not being considered to save the “Big Five,” (Hachette Book Group, HarperCollinsMacmillan, Penguin Random House, and Simon & Schuster), New York based publishing houses.

While the “Big Five” are adversely impacted, by Amazon’s near monopolistic dominance, this potential boycott is about saving the entire book industry which includes; independent presses; self-published authors; indie booksellers; and, most importantly, readers.

“Would You Stop Buying Books from Amazon.com to Save the Book Industry?”

When I posed this question,  I had no idea how strong options were on both sides of this issue. The majority of respondents, 65%, were in favor of a boycotting Amazon’s bookstore—indeed several had already launched a personal boycott.

Others were boycotting not just Amazon’s bookstore, but all of Amazon.com and the many websites they own from Abebooks to Zappos shoe store for a variety of reasons including Amazon’s oppressive labor practices, tax avoidance, and more.

28% of the respondents were against a boycott of Amazon’s bookstore.  The main reason cited by authors was the fact that without Amazon they would be unable to sell their books—this is precisely why this boycott is being considered.

Just over 7% were unsure if they would participate in a boycott.  Most of these respondents appreciated both sides of the issue, but were unsure of the what the right course of action should be, or doubted that any action was necessary.

Review the Complete Details of Our Survey Results

Below I’ve highlighted the most popular reasons people were against a boycott of Amazon’s  bookstore.

    1. Amazon is Inexpensive, Easy to Use, and They Deliver Books for Free
      Amazon also has the power to wring discounts out of major publishers that are unavailable to any other bookseller.  As a result, it is impossible for any independent bookseller to compete with Amazon on price.  While Amazon can afford to sell books at a loss for the foreseeable future, it does not seem likely this tactic will continue indefinitely. Prices will naturally increase and in the absence of competition prices will be higher than they the should be.
    2. I Read Kindle eBooks
      The format that is most popular is Amazon’s Kindle which commands 83% of U.S. ebook business. The rest of the shrinking ebook competition is essentially shared with Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Google. Worse, many authors have chosen to give Amazon exclusivity for their ebooks sales. For all practical purposes Amazon is a monopoly for eBooks.Of course under a monopoly, with a proprietary ebook format, readers and authors are worse off than they would be if there were more options to buy, sell, and distribute ebooks.
    3. Amazon Published Me When Traditional Publishers Rejected My Book
      Amazon does not reject anyone. Amazon makes money not matter what the quality of the book is, because the author pays all the expenses and incurs all the risk. There is no shortage of companies that can provide this service.Traditional publishers invest in an author’s work by paying them an advance. The writer does not pay to have their book produced, marketed, and distributed. Of course some books, most even, will be rejected in this system but not every book is commercially viable.
  1. Amazon is Too Powerful to be Impacted by a Boycott
    No company is too powerful to be boycotted.  The issue is; are the short term sacrifices worth the long term benefits, to enough people?

I have no idea when, or even if, a boycott of Amazon will take place. What I do know is that part of the reason Amazon is dominates the Black Book Ecosystem is that we are not exercising our options. We can free ourselves, of our dependency on Amazon, by choosing or creating alternatives that may actually be better.

There simply too many organizations, unions, guilds, publishers, authors, booksellers, distributors, and readers who understand the adverse impact Amazon’s near monopoly has on the business of books for us to stand by and do nothing about it.

If you are interested in helping to organize a boycott of Amazon’s Bookstore, please join our platform to discuss in more detail.

 

Feel free to email me any questions or concerns you may have. Also, keep in mind this is not “my” effort it is “our” effort. None of us can have an impact alone; we need each other for us to reap the benefits of reducing or even eliminating Amazon’s dominance of the book industry.

Please share this blog post with anyone you think may be interested.  Please complete the short form below to join our mailing list to help organize this effort.

If you are interested in helping to organize a boycott of Amazon’s Bookstore, please provide your contact information and we’ll contact you shortly.


Peace,
Troy Johnson
AALBC.com, Founder and Webmaster

Troy

Troy D. Johnson is the President, founder and webmaster of AALBC.com, LLC (The African American Literature Book Club). Launched in March of 1998, AALBC.com has grown to become the largest and most frequently visited website dedicated to books and films by and about people of African descent.