Amazon.com has developed a reputation in the book industry as a monstrous e-retailer sapping profits for indie bookstores. Consumers can’t help but get addicted to the effortless ordering and two-day shipping, but the socially conscious Noname’s Book Club is celebrating National Fuck Amazon Day aka Library Card Registration Day—a day to support the free literary resources such as libraries already in our communities.
Today on Jan. 11, readers of color are encouraged to sign up for library cards to access free books in their communities. Some libraries may charge $1 for a card, but users can access a number of books for usually three weeks in person or on their e-readers. Some people are even canceling their Amazon memberships since the corporation has long had a reputation for snatching business away from indie bookstores, including those owned by entrepreneurs of color in communities of color.
Noname says it’s not only about supporting local libraries and indie bookstores but really a “stance against corporate greed.”
— Noname's Book Club (@NonameBooks) January 11, 2020
With more literary groups, especially those serving communities of color, joining the fight against Amazon, 2020 could be a year of readers looking for alternative ways to access books without supporting the corporation.
If you’ve given up on Amazon in the name of books, then let us know in the comments.
Personally, I’m not ready to forfeit my Amazon membership. I like my two-day shipping on my specialized beauty products and vitamins that are hard to find in brick-and-mortar stores. Also, in college, Amazon was a godsend for many students looking for cheaper textbooks. It’ll be difficult to check out necessary textbooks from libraries for an entire semester and pay full price when a lower price with shipping is available on Amazon. But Amazon probably bought out the smaller used textbook sellers long ago, so there’s another example of corporate takeover.
The top book publishers could be considered as corporations. Libraries pay authors for their books, and publishers are getting a cut of that check.
MIXED BAG OF PLACES TO BUY BOOKS
Years ago, I had already changed my bookish spending habits by buying most new books from indie bookstores such as The Ripped Bodice and Skylight Books in Los Angeles and Vroman’s in Pasadena. I bought a few from Amazon via used book outfits who work with Amazon to make a profit online.
Some self-published authors I meet in the field want you to buy their books on Amazon because of the chunk of sales the corporation promises them. Amazon has improved its self-publishing platform over the years, making it somewhat of a haven for authors who want to control their book sales. In short, when you’re an avid reader, you buy and rent books from all over. Most of my books are from Goodwill Industries, a nonprofit that could be seen as acting as a corporation, and other thrift stores.
I check out tons of library books in person and on my Kindle. Through Kindle on three active library cards, I use Overdrive which connects you to all your libraries in one place. How e-books are shaping the book industry has also been a topic of conversation, especially with Amazon dominating in that sphere, too. My neighborhood library blocks away from my home is always crowded, but when it comes to the books, it seems underutilized because I usually get the hottest books of the moment easily. With libraries being a public space and used for quiet time, I wonder if enough patrons are checking out the books the libraries invested in.
AUTHOR EVENTS AT CORPORATE AND INDIE BOOKSTORES
I’m into meeting authors for a second and getting their autographed books. I’ve bought a few books from Barnes & Noble at the Grove for author events. That’s another issue: authors, regardless of fame, who should partner with indie bookstores to be their main bookseller or venue when they come to your city.
One great example is Elaine Welteroth, millennial media maven who released More Than Enough last year. During her stop in Los Angeles, she chose to have the event at the California African American Museum and the main bookseller was Eso Won Books, the only black-owned indie bookstore in the area. Another example is Marie Forleo, author of Everything is Figureoutable, who came to the Skirball Cultural Center with her Book Soup as the preferred bookseller.
AMAZON’s HANDS ON THE BOOK INDUSTRY
Noname and her book club are making waves with spreading the message of corporations establishing their own book businesses on top of taking a lion’s share of overall book sales. Amazon is building a book empire with signing on celebrities as authors and delivering Audible titles at record speeds, for example. Hopefully, the movement will bring more dollars back to our local libraries and the literary entrepreneurs of color who’ve opened businesses to purposely serve their communities.