December 6, 2011

“This is the Part Where Amazon Jumps the Shark” or “Go Forth and Destroy Your Community Sayeth Amazon”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jarek Steele @ 11:16 pm
Tags: ,

Amazon Launches Christmas Attack on Local Shops.

 Well, here it is.  Irrefutable evidence that Amazon embodies corporate greed.  First, let me say that the article posted on Gawker illustrates what virtually every bookseller, small business owner and sales tax payer in multiple states already knows – Amazon’s culture of corporate sleaze knows no bounds and it will not rest until it is the only retailer left standing.

Apparently they are now outsourcing their corporate espionage by paying their customers $5 to go to their local stores, scan products, report back to Amazon with the price, leave the store and buy from the big A.

Booksellers like me get pummeled by stories like this all the time.  It seems like there is a never-ending supply of reasons why I shouldn’t open my email, look at my Facebook feed or read the news.  It all seems so bleak these days.  My local pharmacy got eaten by Walgreens, Paypal performs Dickension freeze on charity payments (but then backs down because everyone but them saw the stupidity in what they were doing).  The list goes on.

In fact, I don’t even like watching TV because I know that one of those godforsaken Kindle commercials will come on and not so subtly mock me for liking to shop somewhere else.  “Oh, haha, you bought two Kindle Fires?” the creepy, all-knowing man says to his (is it supposed to be charming?) slightly ditzy girlfriend who was stupid enough to read traditional books.  “Who’s the other one for?” wink, wink, nod, nod.  She giggles.  She admits that it’s for her.

Yes, all the cool kids are reading e-books and shopping on Amazon.  Good thing I’m not cool.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m competitive.  I believe in healthy competition, and god knows I’ve lost sleep over times when my bookstore has fallen short. It’s just that corporate sleaze is, well, gross.  Look at Jeff Bezos, up there standing in his “see, I’m casual, approachable – a sort of madcap, devil may care kind of multi-billionaire” blue jeans and blazer.  Look closer.  See the smirk?  It’s us he’s laughing at – and I don’t just mean me and my brothers and sisters in bookselling or other retailers.  He’s laughing at you.

In my store, rule number one is “Never make the customer work harder than you.”  

Rule number two is “Never make the customer feel stupid.”

At one fell swoop, Amazon has put its customers to work for the cost of the sales tax they didn’t collect from them, and mocked them for having a different opinion.  It has long cloaked its tax evasive maneuvers and its practice of selling the entire book industry as a loss-leader in a sales pitch to you and me – one I’ll admit I almost fell for.

The pitch?  “Regular retail stores are bilking you out of your hard-earned cash by charging fair market value for their products.”  Not only that, but you would be foolish for paying more than what they charge.  That’s right – DEMAND better prices from your bookstore.  Take control!  Negotiate a better deal!  Sounds so empowering, doesn’t it?  Do you feel empowered?

Or do you feel bullied?

Amazon wants you to negotiate on their behalf because you’re cheap labor.  The lower they can drive the prices, the harder it is for anyone besides Bezos to make a living.  Nobody wants to work for slave wages, least of all the authors you love.  Paying less for their books than it costs to make them is insulting on lots of levels and doesn’t make any economic sense.

But back to Amazon and their latest ploy to get their customers to act against their own self-interest.  I’m sure they will defend this and mock those of us who say it’s gross and unethical at the very least.  They’ll feed us all a line about how smart you’ll be to stick it to your local retailers by helping Amazon undercut their sales.  The smug bully grin so prevalent in most of Amazon’s communications will make you think that theirs is the winning side.  They’ll supply the arguments that support the notion that everyone who’s not on the Amazon train is a chump.

But the cracks are evident, here.  Corporate bloat isn’t cool and it’s getting harder and harder to disguise greed and unregulated monopoly in a camouflage of populism.

Meanwhile, I can offer this – if you shop at my bookstore, I will not pay you five dollars to spy on my competitors.  In fact, I’ll probably recommend them if we can’t get what you need.  I won’t degrade your favorite author by giving away a lifetime of her work so that I can sell electronics.  I will not make you feel bad for reading traditional books, nor will I mock you for choosing an e-reader, e-book or anything else I offer even if I don’t personally like it.

After all, customers are people, not pawns.  We still like to shop with people who respect us.



  1. Amen, brother. Thanks for saying all this with style and aplomb, and for being the better man.

    Comment by Kasey Cox — December 7, 2011 @ 8:35 am | Reply

  2. You wrote it so I don’t have to. Well said!

    Comment by kriskleindienst — December 7, 2011 @ 8:52 am | Reply

  3. You do realize that the $5 offer from Amazon doesn’t apply to books or booksellers, right?

    Comment by Ill Informed — December 7, 2011 @ 11:27 am | Reply

    • An injury to one is an injury to all, friend.

      Comment by Jarek Steele - Left Bank Books — December 7, 2011 @ 12:18 pm | Reply

      • The only reason they didn’t include books is that scanning a book’s barcode just gives you the publisher price. Otherwise, you’d better believe they would have included books. And also, too: your point is that Amazon has not targeted bookstores?

        Comment by Michael Herrmann — December 7, 2011 @ 3:38 pm

  4. Nice response. I like to buy books from people who read them, and I don’t want to send my money to some millionaire in Seattle. Especially one intent on world wide domination…

    Comment by Kevin Coolidge — December 7, 2011 @ 1:50 pm | Reply

  5. First, I agree, pretty scumball thing for Amazon to do. Second, I’ve always been an avid supporter of Indy bookstores, and continue to be, despite the fact that I don’t feel very supported by them. It would seem that if an author is not with one of the big publishers, the chances an Indy store will carry his/her book is as likely as Amazon directing some of its business to an Indy store. My thriller was published through a small press in 2010, as will my second one be early in 2012 and, despite my efforts, to my knowledge I have been unable to get a single Indy bookstore to carry it. I’ve had to stop telling friends to buy my book at their local store as they’ve been told the store won’t order it. I’ve tried seeking help from Indybound with no response. What choice does that leave me with but to play in Amazon’s sandbox?

    It seems to me if Indy bookstores are going to survive, they need to figure out a way to play the game with all the players: small press; both epub alone and epub/paper/pod paper, and self-pub authors.

    Believe me, there is nothing I’d like more than to strip all the Amazon links off my website and replace them with Indy bookstore links.

    EJ Knapp

    Comment by EJ Knapp — December 7, 2011 @ 2:22 pm | Reply

    • I am an indie bookstore owner and we – and every indie bookstore owner we know – struggles to set ourselves apart from the big box stores and Amazon. And we do that by bringing recognition to the unknowns. Your post smacks of being written by an Amazonian plant because what you wrote is illogical and patently untrue. Indies take great pride in the fact that we carry authors the big boys won’t – that we want you to find the “next Stephen King” in our store. With that said, however, there are some authors that are unknown for a reason – their books aren’t very good. We have to be different than everyone else, so we carry the unknown authors people will be glad they found in our store.

      Comment by Lance B. — December 7, 2011 @ 3:04 pm | Reply

      • It’s not illogical and it’s not patently untrue. Here’s my name, look me up. I’m in the same boat as Mr. Knapp. My books are selling a thousand or so copies a month each and my small press publisher can’t get any indie bookstore to touch any of them. Amazon gets all those sales because small bookstores aren’t interested. I’ve tried personally with at least a dozen stores and been told in no uncertain terms they’re not interested.

        YOUR store may take great pride in it, but that’s a very big leap from saying they all do.

        Comment by Peter Clines — December 8, 2011 @ 12:35 am

    • EJ, I see that your publisher is located in South Africa (though you are in Detroit). That may be part of the problem. I do stock books by ocal authors who have been published by foreign publishers–on consignment. The authors bring in the books and fulfill US orders, including those for several bookstores in our area. Since small orders from foreign publishers aren’t very practical (or green!), this is a way for them to get their books placed in shops like mine. Have you made inquiry about this solution?

      Comment by Nena R — December 8, 2011 @ 1:20 am | Reply

  6. Exactly.

    Comment by Alicia — December 7, 2011 @ 2:34 pm | Reply

  7. I understand your passionate plea. But does your bookstore carry my book? Henry Wood Detective Agency? You’ve never heard of it, you say, okay, that is probably true, but Amazon has it.

    They have given me the opportunity to follow my dream. They have even sold over 100 copies of the Kindle version and 20 or so of the print version.

    I love books. My house is filled with bookshelves. I still buy books all the time, but if it is really good, then I buy the Kindle version to read. (technically Kindle app on my ipad) It is just makes reading easier. I can eat my order of chicken lo mien and not have to battle with holding the pages down. When I’m ready to turn a page, I just reach out and flick my finger.

    I’m sorry that your business is suffering. I do wish you well. I will continue to shop on Amazon and not because I am personally attacking you, but because I like the service they provide. I’ve bought a new microwave, upgraded the chip set, graphics cards, monitors, and RAM, and even purchased numerous woodworking tools. They have kindly delivered everything to my door in the tiny (pop. 280) town I live in.

    Good luck in your campaign to change people’s minds. The fact that you haven’t change mine, doesn’t mean it won’t work. I hope you have a great holiday shopping season.

    Comment by Brian D. Meeks (@ExtremelyAvg) — December 7, 2011 @ 2:49 pm | Reply

    • As I said on the previous comment, independent bookstores thrive on marketing the unknowns. We have to set ourselves apart because, frankly, we can’t sell for lower than cost like Amazon does. Do you do author signings? Have you marketed your book to the bookstore?

      Comment by Lance B. — December 7, 2011 @ 3:21 pm | Reply

    • You are so not an author. This post reeks of Amazon commercial. How far will the 17 cents Amazon gave you per copy of your book towards fulfilling your dream? Nice commercial, though, Mr. (or is it Ms?) Amazon employee. Did Amazon pay you for this, or did they get you to do it for free like their new market research team will be next Saturday? Let’s see … 17 cents times 120 = $20.40. Heck, let’s even round up to $1 per book (which is insanely high for amazon). That’s $120. You need a bigger dream, ma’am.

      Comment by Mike O. — December 7, 2011 @ 7:24 pm | Reply

    • Just one point – Amazon didn’t sell your book. You did. They just provided you with some technology to do it, but you did all the work. Amazon did not kindly deliver anything to your door, the UPS or FedEx person did. Amazon is not a person, and the more they grow, the more they take people out of the equation, or take the free labor of their customers to do their bidding.

      This isn’t and end-sum game, and it’s OK to like both Amazon and an indie bookstore. Indie bookstores will go wrong if they make people feel guilty for shopping elsewhere, but they do need to educate the public about the costs of letting Amazon be your only provider of content.

      Great post, and I love the discussion!

      Comment by Noelle — December 7, 2011 @ 7:31 pm | Reply

    • I see that your book is available through Indie stores – http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780984248056 Not sure why your local isn’t carrying it? Perhaps that is an issue specifically between you and them? Depending on the store and staff, having a book sitting on the shelf doesn’t mean it will go any further. The unique thing about an Indie bookseller is that they take the time to recommend books they have read to their customers. I would find a fan on staff.

      Comment by Andrea — December 7, 2011 @ 8:01 pm | Reply

      • Saying something is available through is not the same thing as available at. People go to a bookstore to pick a book up and walk home with it. That’s supposed to be the big advantage over Amazon, yes? If they’re going to have to order it and wait anyway, why would they want to go somewhere else to do that…?

        Comment by Peter Clines — December 8, 2011 @ 12:40 am

  8. Sorry, but I must disagree as well. I don’t LIKE shopping at local bookstores. I don’t want help from your employees. I don’t want to pay extra for your overhead. I don’t want to pay sales tax. I want to be able to find virtually any book in print, read reviews from many other people, order from my living room, and have my book (or cycling gloves or lawn mower or home theater receiver or air filter) magically appear on my doorstep a few days later. It’s a superior shopping experience in nearly every way. I hate to see your business struggle. I really do. But for most items, Amazon is a superior shopping experience for me.

    Comment by Andy Box — December 7, 2011 @ 3:06 pm | Reply

    • Enjoy it while it lasts, ’cause like Wal-Mart before them, once they kill off the competition their prices aren’t going to stay so low…

      Comment by methodishca — December 7, 2011 @ 3:24 pm | Reply

      • Amazon is not like Walmart. They always offer me the option to buy new and used books from other sellers. I am all for local bookstores, but let’s not forget that through Amazon, someone across the Atlantic or Pacific gets to hear about books they would have not have a chance to check out before. This is not a black and white issue.

        Comment by Kynde — December 9, 2011 @ 7:58 am

      • Amazon has it’s place – online. The app, however, is a black and white issue – it’s wrong. When Amazon sends their customers into my store to pretend they’re my customer, they are capitalizing on my blood, sweat, future and resources, so they can move more product through their warehouse. I am not an Amazon showroom. But because Amazon is using me as one, they get all the benefits of having a brick and mortar store … at my expense. They don’t have that overhead because they’re using mine … without permission or compensation. That’s wrong. This app is actually SENDING *Amazon* customers into *my* store to PRETEND they’re interested in me. They may as well leave $50 on the nightstand when they leave because that’s what they just did to me.

        Here’s a link to the commercial – it makes me sick to watch people boink other businesses and then just “buy now” on amazon. While they’re still standing in the store. It’s just wrong. Tell me how this doesn’t undermine the brick and mortar store. Tell me how, if this was my mom and pop bookstore, I am supposed to be OK with this.

        Comment by Mike O — December 9, 2011 @ 8:46 am

      • Wow, I hadn’t seen that obnoxious display of arrogance. I should have linked to that originally. It’s much grosser on camera.

        Comment by Jarek Steele - Left Bank Books — December 9, 2011 @ 8:57 am

    • “pay extra for your overhead” … nice spin.

      Comment by Lance B. — December 7, 2011 @ 3:54 pm | Reply

      • by “nice spin,” I mean I like you you make the indie out to be the greedy one. We’re not … we’re doing all we can just to not have skinny kids.

        Comment by Lance B. — December 7, 2011 @ 3:55 pm

    • Hi Andy, I completely get it. That’s why we’ve devoted so much time to our store’s e-commerce website (hosted by Indiebound), which offers every book in print and e-books powered by Google. We also ship anywhere.

      In case you’re interested, here’s a link to search our site and give us a try: http://www.left-bank.com
      Also, here’s a link to download a free e-book reader app for any Android device (soon to be available for iphone as well): https://market.android.com/details?id=com.aba.ibreader

      As for the sales tax issue – it is a regressive tax, but the uneven enforcement of the payment of that tax puts virtually every business that competes with Amazon at a disadvantage. I’m not advocating for higher taxes – just fair play.

      Thanks for reading my post,

      Comment by Jarek Steele - Left Bank Books — December 7, 2011 @ 4:15 pm | Reply

  9. @EJ Knapp: You bring up some good (and tough) points. Unfortunately though, it appears that books from your publisher are non-returnable (at least from Ingram where many stores might find it most convenient to order them). Does that mean that books ordered direct are also non-returnable? If so, does Amazon get those same terms or can they return stock? Seems to me that many publishers (non necessarily yours) shoot themselves in the foot by offering better discounts to Amazon than they do to independent stores. Then these publishers will whine and cry when Amazon is the only retailer left. It’s basically the music industry story on a ten-year delay.

    Comment by methodishca — December 7, 2011 @ 3:12 pm | Reply

  10. I don’t know you, but I like you!I don’t buy many books anymore, but when I do it’s at the bookstore about half a mile from where I live. I’m happy to say that I have never bought a book from Amazon although I do buy online for used books if they don’t have what I want at the local used-book store. I wish you good luck.

    Comment by Jan Pope — December 7, 2011 @ 3:21 pm | Reply

  11. As the Editor in chief of a small independent publisher I can testify to the fact that independent booksellers are the first and best friends of independent publishers and the authors they publish. To suggest otherwise is just plain wrong, I can assure you. There are so many books published today (the most recent estimate was somewhere around 600k a year, but with the rise of self-publishing, the advent of print-on-demand, the proliferation of micro-publishers, and above all, the digitization of print, the counters have thrown up their hands and have stopped counting) that no bookstore can stock everything. The “you don’t stock my book” argument just doesn’t hold water. Right, amazon may carry it. But amazon is not a bookstore; it’s a warehouse + checkout.

    It’s not rocket science: Amazon sells at a cheaper price because, among other things, is refuses to collect state sales tax from its customers, something that bookstores cannot get away with, even if they wanted to. Buying from amazon, whether it be books or a new microwave, subverts the tax base of your town and state and threatens basic services provided by the state. Leaving aside all the aesthetic/service considerations connected to amazon vs bookstores, I don’t understand why people can’t appreciate this basic fact; how, that is, they can be so myopic.

    Comment by michael — December 7, 2011 @ 3:25 pm | Reply

  12. For all you people who like the Amazon experience, here’s a thought. Go to their website, do all your searches, read all the reviews and research. Heck, even look inside for a pre-read (which you can also do in my store, by the way). In fact, look at their recommendations to see what people who bought this book also bought. Then come to your independent bookstore and keep your community alive by buying that merchandise from your neighbors.

    In fact, you’ll be doing Amazon a FAVOR by not making them lose money on their loss leader. It’s the best of both worlds. All the convenience of an online warehouse, and you STILL get to shop local! Think of the possibilities – Amazon actually HELPING the local business owners! But Amazon will need your help to make it work – Amazon can’t help the local retailer without YOUR support!

    Sorry, I can’t afford to pay you $5 though. My margins are too thin.

    Comment by Mike O — December 7, 2011 @ 4:04 pm | Reply

  13. Here’s something I don’t get … If the point of shopping online is convenience and price how is it more convenient (and worth the price) to a) go to the store, b) find the thing you want, c) put the thing you had in your hand back on teh shelf, d) order it online, and e) wait for days to get it in the mail … the thing you were actually holding in your hand a few days earlier? And amazon isn’t always cheaper. Think of the time and gas and effort spent to shop at home. Seems like the worst of both worlds to me. Amazon has really snookered people!

    Comment by Mike O. — December 7, 2011 @ 8:11 pm | Reply

    • Very well put! I guess it’s all about (seemingly) saving money (and killing physical stores), but it’s about as convenient as Borders’ plan to have download stations inside their stores!

      Comment by methodishca — December 7, 2011 @ 8:21 pm | Reply

  14. Mean spirited article. Point out your strengths. Great. Even rant against Amazon. Fine
    But to suggest that Jeff Bezos is somehow devil incarnate and planning world domination is a bit much over the top.
    You are also selling ebooks. So compete.
    Jeff is no more a devil than your owner/manager. Most CEOs are competing to win. Is that wrong?
    Customers are not stupid. They are just not as brand loyal as any one company would like them to be.
    Times are tough, people are price sensitive. If Amazon raises prices later, someone else will undercut them.
    That is the great thing about free markets.
    My only gripe about the local bookshops… why can’t they have a nice cafe because I love hanging out in a bookstore,
    sipping coffee, browsing a few books and then buying some.
    As it is, in this economy it is off to the library for me!

    Comment by price sensitive reader — December 7, 2011 @ 9:32 pm | Reply

    • Many bookshops DO have cafes. When you find one that doesn’t (like mine) it may be that there are reasons in your local building or health code for that. My (landlord’s) old building would need significant rehab and plumbing work to have even minimal kitchen facilities…and our city charges a $10-per-square-foot fee to put food service in any building that has never had it before. But you can bring your coffee from any of the 5 cafes within 5 blocks, pick up a book, and sit in a soft chair. I used to offer free coffee, but nobody drank it cos they could get a proper latte up the block.

      Comment by Nena R — December 8, 2011 @ 1:03 am | Reply

    • It’s Jeff Bezos’ refusal to collect state sales tax that makes him a devil. That’s destroying my state & community, as well as unfair competition for local retailers that do collect sales tax.

      Comment by Rod Nordberg — December 10, 2011 @ 12:18 am | Reply

  15. Exceptional observations.
    Thanks for putting into words what we are all feeling.

    Comment by Ted Wedel — December 7, 2011 @ 11:08 pm | Reply

  16. […] skullfuckingly terrible as Price Check sounds, I wasn’t planning on writing about it, until I read this blog post by Jarek Steele, co-owner of Left Bank Books in St. Louis, called “‘This is the Part Where Amazon Jumps The […]

    Pingback by This Is The Part Where Amazon Doesn’t Jump The Shark | Full Stop — December 8, 2011 @ 12:54 am | Reply

  17. What I use Amazon for the most is researching books that I then buy at my local book store (The Vermont Book Shop in Middlebury — fabulous, especially the kids’ section). If the store doesn’t have a book, they will cheerfully order it for me. In addition to books, I enjoy the benefits of a town that has an actual center and merchants who participate in the community.

    I admit that I sometimes use Amazon to buy gifts for people far away. Now I’m thinking I’ll work a little harder to ship them myself.

    Comment by Priscilla Bremser — December 8, 2011 @ 6:13 am | Reply

    • Thank you!

      Comment by Mike O. — December 8, 2011 @ 6:40 am | Reply

    • Thank you, thank you! And we are feeling your efforts this season.

      Comment by Becky — December 14, 2011 @ 6:19 pm | Reply

  18. Sometimes the simplest answer is the best … starting today, cell phone use is not allowed in our store. Bottom line is, you don’t need a cell phone to be a customer of mine, but you *do* need a cell phone to *not* be a customer of mine. We are a friendly, comfortable store so we’ve made the policy across the board with cute little signs so it’s fair to everyone. Kind of like “no smoking.” You just cant – no harm, no offense, no police state. I’m sorry, you just can’t. After all “police state” and “indie bookstore” don’t mix well.

    Some people will think this is unfair. That’s OK, they are likely a scan-n-scram anyway. “Steal Local” is what my wife has dubbed it.

    Others will understand. Those would be my customers. And they will continue to get the same warm atmosphere, soft music, and service they always have. Nothing will have changed with the atmosphere of our store.

    On a related note, people have made comments about not wanting to *pay for* my overhead and taxes. That’s fine, you don’t have to. But then you shouldn’t need to *use* my overhead and my taxes either. Buy online or don’t. Just don’t pretend you’re buying from me, and then use my “overhead” to buy my goods and services from my competitor so he doesn’t have to have any.

    So no cell phones allowed in our store. The cell phone area is outside. I hope it works out for us. If this policy kills us, we were dead anyway.

    Comment by Mike O. — December 8, 2011 @ 7:26 am | Reply

    • Well, what about times where say, someone needs to ask a friend about a title? Psychologically, it seems like young people get antsy when they’re unable to text or be texted and they might spend less time browsing if that’s the case. If it’s less comfortable for customers to shop, they could end up right back online, buying from you-know-who…

      Comment by methodishca — December 8, 2011 @ 8:00 am | Reply

      • I’m sure we’ll be friendly and reasonable about it. Hard to say, we’re stepping into a brave new world with the Amazon app. This app isn’t a 1 day problem, it’s the new future. So we will need to learn how to live within that. Mistakes will be made, to be sure. But we do not accept app usage in our store.

        To answer your question, they can ask our knowledgeable, helpful staff – that’s what we do. 🙂 Bookstore customers – even the young texter types – are good people. We like them and they like us. And you can tell if someone is working with you or against you. If we continue to treat people like customers to be served rather than threats to be managed, I am sure we can accommodate them and keep them comfortable and happy with no worries. Will it be perfect? No. But we will continue to be the same indie bookstore we were yesterday – when the future changed.

        Comment by Mike O — December 8, 2011 @ 8:18 am

    • Sometimes I like to make a note about a book that I want to look for in the library. I almost always buy something if I’ve been browsing in a bookstore, but I simply can’t afford to buy everything I want to read. So now I have to feel guilty about not spending *enough* at your store? Nice.

      Comment by Gretchen Wade — December 8, 2011 @ 10:14 am | Reply

      • The hard thing about writing on blogs like this is you lose the person behind the words. Of course you wouldn’t be made to feel guilty for not spending enough … I’m not sure where you got that idea. For us to survive, we need to treat our customers well, and we do. I think if you look past the sterile blog post and look to the intent of the indie owners who need to deal with this reality, please understand we’re trying to do our best for everyone.

        I’ve found in most areas of life that people who are easily offended are, well, easily offended, and there’s very little anyone can do to avoid it. An easily offended customer will eventually be upset about something. We do our best to not offend people, but once people set their mind to it, they will be offended no matter what we do. So please understand our need to maintain a viable business.

        Comment by Mike O — December 8, 2011 @ 11:01 am

    • After giving this issue a couple of days to ruminate, we have decided to wait and see what actually happens. Rather than not allowing cell phone use at all, we’re putting up signs that say “Please do not scan or photograph our merchandise.” Then in a smaller font below, “Find it here. Buy it here. Keep us here. Thank you! [Our names go here] Your neighbor and local business owner.”

      Comment by Mike O. — December 10, 2011 @ 8:48 am | Reply

  19. I’ve emailed Jarek twice about discussing a book signing with Left Bank Books. I have a new mystery thriller out, titled KILLERWATT. It is published by a start up Indie publisher, Deadly Writes, LLC. It was published as a POD, and is “available” from Ingram, etc., but the publisher and I have enough books to tour. The publisher is willing to work with the indies to either sell on consignment, or take returns, but I haven’t been able to get a response from Jarek. Frankly I assumed that he may have seen it available on Amazon.com and decided not to have anything to do with me. I would very much like to work with all of the indies, and would especially like to have a presence in the St. Louis market because I am from Southeast Missouri. The story is set in Southeast Missouri, and is thus regional. and is perhaps something unique to offer the readers in Missouri.

    Comment by Sharon Hopkins — December 8, 2011 @ 2:18 pm | Reply

  20. Everyone has their price. Amazon sold its integrity for a few pieces of silver.

    Comment by lin — December 9, 2011 @ 6:45 am | Reply

    • I think there is no way to deny that Amazon is every bookstore’s competitor. They sell every single book that a bookstore sells, and probably for less. What will set a bookstore apart is it’s personality, and having events like author signings where the public can meet the authors, which is something Amazon can never do.

      Comment by Sharon — December 9, 2011 @ 7:51 am | Reply

  21. I am not sure I understand something here. I got to read this article because someone posted an email at the SCBWI listserve I belong to. She wrote tht agreed with: “Amazon’s culture of corporate sleaze knows no bounds and it will not rest until it is the only retailer left standing.’ Out of curiosity, I checked out her book on Amazon, and while they do not sell it, they referred me to other sources where I could buy it. Talk about free advertisment for her. And I got toread some reviews about her book! Shoudl I tell her to ask Amazon to remove her name from their database. On top of it, for those like me who try to buy used books for environmental considerations, I get to buy used copies. Again, this is not a black and white issue.
    In the past, I have tried to shop local only and the service was hit and miss, depending on the mood of the person working there. Once there was a book signing and I was not allowed to stand in line because I did not buy my copy from them. I had bought it a while back and before I knew the writer was going to talk at their bookstore. I was treated like a traitor for not buying from them. Not all locals are equal. Some are simply the best, but not all are equal.
    By the way, I only shop fair trade coffee, tea and bananas. Do all those who are so against Amazon ever buy Dole or Chiquita bananas? Just a food for thought.

    Comment by Kynde — December 9, 2011 @ 8:24 am | Reply

    • Amazon recommended other sources for her book? I’d love to see this. What was the book? Thanks!

      Comment by methodishca — December 9, 2011 @ 4:52 pm | Reply

  22. If it makes you feel any better, I use Amazon to figure out whether or not I want to check a book out of the library. I also use it to find books that I then buy at my local bookstores. So it can work both ways.

    Comment by Charlotte K — December 9, 2011 @ 1:57 pm | Reply

  23. […] to announce a certain deal. There have been a few reactions: from the ABA; from a bookseller at Left Bank Books; from Roxanne Cody at RJJulia booksellers; the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance; bookseller […]

    Pingback by As the Book World Turns… « BookPeople's Blog — December 9, 2011 @ 2:05 pm | Reply

  24. BOYCOTT, Yes, shop with your dollars, folks! I will never place an order with Amazon.com again, and I will urge everyone I know to join me. Vote with your dollars, folks, and vote to have local resources/stores who are not out to shut down the competition and who do not take advantage of their customers by asking them to report back to them with competitors pricing, stay open. Appreciate where you choose to shop and to spend your money, and whenever possible keep your money local. Walk to your favorite store, enjoy the experience and put your phone away.

    Comment by susan — December 9, 2011 @ 2:54 pm | Reply

  25. […] Go Forth and Destroy Your Community Sayeth Amazon […]

    Pingback by –The One-Click Grinch: Amazon Launches Holiday Attack on Retail Stores by Paying Customers to Walk Out « Word Hits — December 9, 2011 @ 3:07 pm | Reply

  26. Here’s my problem, twice i went to a local bookstore to buy a book. Both cases they did not have it, and both recommended that I get it online instead of ordering it themselves. Same thing happened to a freidn of mine who DID NOT want to go online and even went to three different stores looking for a book. It’s hard to be angry at Amazon if brick-and-morter stores will only carry best-sellers and won’t carry or oder in copies of books people come in to ask for. I wanted the convenience of picking my books up at a store near me and would have paid the slight difference. I wanted to support them. They chose not to go through the inconvenience of serving me.

    Comment by B. A. Binns — December 9, 2011 @ 3:53 pm | Reply

  27. I, too, use Amazon mainly as a research tool for buying stuff elsewhere. There’s even an tool that I’ve added to my version of Amazon that allows me to see if an item I’m interested in is available in my local library 🙂

    Comment by Kym — December 10, 2011 @ 10:36 pm | Reply

  28. Amazon: It Is A Jungle Out There…my thoughts at http://bierkergaard.blogspot.com/2011/12/amazon-it-is-jungle-out-there.html

    Comment by ericbierker — December 11, 2011 @ 6:57 am | Reply

  29. […] Monopolies and KDP Select Bookstore owner Jarek Steele of Left Bank Books, on why Amazon’s latest undercutting of the competition is just too much corporate viciousness. (via […]

    Pingback by Weekly Writer’s Round-Up: Week of December 4, 2011 | Chris Devlin's Blog — December 11, 2011 @ 12:55 pm | Reply

  30. I just saw this on Shelf Awareness … it’s funny and scary all at the same time: How Amazon Stole Christmas: https://www.facebook.com/shelfawareness/posts/308988005799927

    Comment by Lance B — December 12, 2011 @ 10:00 am | Reply

  31. […] of what irks me about Manjoo’s article has to do with what I posted last time – the smug assurance that shopping at a local bookstore makes you a chump.  I think I said […]

    Pingback by Them’s Fightin’ Words: Slate Magazine’s Misguided Rant Against Bookstores « jareksteele — December 14, 2011 @ 12:35 pm | Reply

  32. > I won’t degrade your favorite author by giving away a lifetime of her work

    As a published author, thank you! Until I’d written a book, I had no idea how much work it is. These days, I always try to buy new books if for no other reason than to support the author. And by the way, even many prolific authors don’t make enough from their books to support themselves. Many have day jobs as well.

    It may put things into perspective a bit to understand that according to my agent, these days the average book by a new author sells fewer than 1,000 copies. If you like an author, buy their book, buy it new, and hope that they keep writing. Because if they don’t eventually see some kind of return, they just may decide to go do something else!

    Comment by Stever Robbins — December 15, 2011 @ 10:25 pm | Reply

  33. Thanks a lot for the post. Cool.

    Comment by Kenna Jordan — January 29, 2012 @ 2:46 am | Reply

  34. If the point of shopping online is convenience and price how is it more convenient (and worth the price) to a) go to the store, b) find the thing you want, c) put the thing you had in your hand back on teh shelf, d) order it online, and e) wait for days to get it in the mail … the thing you were actually holding in your hand a few days earlier? And amazon isn’t always cheaper. Think of the time and gas and effort spent to shop at home. Seems like the worst of both worlds to me. Amazon has really snookered people!

    Comment by Brad -- Kindle Fire Leather Cover — February 1, 2012 @ 11:11 pm | Reply

  35. While I understand the nature of your rant, I have to say that I disagree on many levels. I do love amazon, and walmart. Who doesn’t love a good deal, right? I know that these days it is cool to hate the big box stores / mega stores, but they bring things within reach of people who otherwise might not be able to afford them. I know walmart was not a part of this rant, but it kind of fits because so many have said the same things about them. Now, that said, I have MANY bookshelves in my bedroom filled with books. Books in front of books, books stacked on books, books squeezed so tightly into the shelves that no more can fit. I bought more shelves and was immediately able to fill them up with boxes that I had been unable to fit previously. I shop at my local independent bookstores, local used bookstores, and local barnes and nobles, books-a-millions, Ollie’s, etc. I also shop on amazon.com. It all depends on the book, how much I’m willing to pay for it, and how soon I want it. I also own a whopping TWO kindle e-books that I read on my Acer Tablet, and dozens of epub and pdf format books bought from publishers for convenience. Times change, industries change, and we have to change to accommodate them. The advent of the smart phone is a great example of that- the apps for everything have probably slightly dampened sales in numerous industries and yet few argue that they are a harm to capitalism. I don’t doubt that amazon has espoused a culture of corporate sleaze- more corporations do have psychopathic tendencies. However, as long as we have a culture of convenience, which I doubt will go away anytime soon, these business will thrive. It is their right, just as it is yours. You just have to find a way to evolve your business to possibly meet a wider variety of needs of you want to increase your revenue. I sympathize with your plight but I do think that there are many more factors that come into play than everything just being amazon’s fault. Gas consumption in the US is at an 11 year low. The economy is in the dumps. Even if amazon were to go down in flames, another online superstore would come right back up in its place. That will likely happen eventually anyway, some other company will come up that will dwarf amazon and reduce their sales. All I’m saying is that you should look for resolutions to your problems other than just laying blame.

    Comment by Danielle — February 26, 2012 @ 12:55 pm | Reply

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