Maggie Chidester is a freelance writer and book blogger (@bookinlookinandcookin) where she talks about the intersections of books, media, and food culture. Below, she shares her journey towards shopping locally and conscientiously.
“Amazon has changed the supply chain management landscape and runs the most efficient supply chains in the world,” is what I heard from my college professors every day as an Operations Management major at the University of Minnesota. I learned lesson after lesson on the power of Amazon. It flooded my head with the idea that I should be in awe of Amazon, and not disgusted at how they manage 2-day shipping with high transportation emissions, horrible working conditions at their warehouses, and price slashing books to undercut independent booksellers.
I used to be the person who bought her books dirt cheap from Amazon, purchased packages with her Prime account for the convenience of immediate shipping, utilized Goodreads to track her reading, and downloaded Audible to listen to audiobooks. But not anymore. Because I discovered Libro.fm.
After graduating and starting a book blog, I slowly started learning about the dark side of Amazon. I discovered Libro.fm after learning about their ALC program, signed up for their monthly membership, and eradicated Audible and their exclusionary audiobook program. I stopped purchasing physical books from Amazon and instead started to support my local independent bookstores like Charis Books & More in Atlanta, Georgia, and Room of One’s Own Bookstore in Madison, Wisconsin.
Inspired by Libro.fm’s social mission to use technology to increase access to books and supporting local, I decided to take the steps to completely eliminate Amazon from my life. Here’s how:
- I disabled my Prime membership and deleted my entire Amazon account.
- I stopped shopping at Whole Foods and started spending money at my local farmers market.
- I completely deleted my Goodreads account after years of being a member, disappointed by the complete lack of innovation since its acquisition by Amazon.
- Instead, I started using The StoryGraph app—a Black- and woman- owned, reader-centric alternative to Goodreads that includes unique functions such as content warnings, insightful statistics from your reading tracking, and the ability to browse books by mood.
I was nervous at how drastically my life would change by cutting out the monopolizing behemoth, but to be honest, it hasn’t changed much. Where it has changed, it’s changed for the better. I don’t impulsively shop anymore, I no longer feel guilty about making a billionaire richer, and I support my local community in a direct way.
I’m not alone—other book bloggers have also adopted the “Anything but Amazon” mindset:
- Sarah (a bookstagrammer @sarahcphd) started having an existential crisis about the environment because she realized her consumption was geared toward getting as much as she possibly could for as cheap as possible. Bookstagram often feeds into the idea to consume as many new books as you can, and the only way to keep up is to buy books cheaply. But for Sarah, her breakup with Amazon was about “being more intentional about what I buy and where I spend my money.”
- Allison (a bookstagrammer and bookish newsletter curator @allisonreadsdc) started her Anti-Amazon mission after working at indie bookstore Old Town Books and seeing just how much work goes into running a small business centered around books. In college, she had to buy textbooks on Amazon because they were so much more affordable, but after finishing her education, she read more about how problematic Amazon is in how they treat their employees. “Bookstores are a place that fosters community and Amazon does not care about authors, employees, or anyone. They care about profits.” She now shops solely from her indies, Libro.fm and from Bookshop.org, who donates a portion of their profits to local bookstores.
“Bookstores are places that foster community, and Amazon does not care about authors, employees, or anyone. They care about profits.”Allison (@allisonreadsdc)
I know that Amazon is cheap and convenient, and many people depend on these benefits to survive. But, if you are financially and physically able to take the steps to cut out Amazon, it’s worth it. You keep money within your local economy, you create local jobs, you protect the environment, you help shape your community, and you make a world of difference.
Among the woke who know that Amazon is bad, we often navigate by a North Star of politics through our diets, our friendships, even our consumption of pop culture, but we rarely make meaningful noise about those causes that run against our own self interest. We try to cut corners and say “there’s no ethical consumption under capitalism” because we are unwilling to give up the convenience of 2-day shipping. We may tell ourselves “If I stop shopping at Amazon, they aren’t going to miss my money. I won’t make a difference,” when instead we should be saying “Amazon might not notice a difference, but I will make a difference in the community I am choosing to invest in.”
Thank you, Libro.fm, for reminding me of the power I hold.
You’re welcome, Maggie!
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