People have to stop getting into bed with Amazon.com. They have to stop. Or at least they have to stop being surprised when Amazon turns out to be evil.
I don’t buy from Amazon.com anymore. With the exception of spending a few Amazon gift certificates I’ve been given, I haven’t bought anything from Amazon in something like two years; not since #amazonfail, anyway.
Short version of #amazonfail is that Amazon decided books about non-heteronormative sexuality and women’s reproductive health shouldn’t show up unless you searched for them specifically, so they stripped their sales rankings and essentially made them invisible; you could write a bestselling novel about two gay men and Amazon wouldn’t list it in their bestsellers, under this system. They blamed it on a “glitch” when they finally apologised, which was something like three days later after #amazonfail had been top-trending on Twitter for hours.
I called bullshit then when I was a part of the protest and I call bullshit now. If you want more detail (it only gets worse for them, I promise) you can Google “amazon fail”.
That was part of why I stopped buying Amazon, but news stories about the way Amazon treats its clients and competitors were sent to me because I was raising hell about them, and that made me decide there were other businesses that needed my money more. I’m aware that Amazon gives a leg up to small businesses who can sell through the site, but I’m afraid the off-chance of supporting a small business is not worth the certainty of supporting Amazon.
Jim Hines has the latest report on Amazon’s latest “we price at lowest sale price to be found anywhere, and you’ll take it and like it” deal, which has actually been going on for quite a while; I was puzzled as to why he seemed surprised by this, and why people linking to it did too, till I remembered that not everyone is a selfpub news junkie like I am, or has a well-known Amazon grudge to hold.
But whether we’re aware of it or not, it’s still been going on for literally years, this bullying of the little guy. The only way it is ever going to stop is if you stop buying Amazon, stop doing deals with them, and stop selling through them. And yeah, that’s inconvenient and it sucks, but they are committing genuine injustices against the literary community and the only way to stop them is to stop giving them money.
Or this is going to become institutionalised, and Amazon’s dominance will become a fact of life. When that happens, the opportunity we have here to free the writer from the confines of an old-fashioned benefit-the-corporation publishing system is going to pass us right by, because they’re going to eat us alive.
And the only person who won’t suffer by that, you guys, is Jeff Bezos.
I’m going to be working up a list of alternate resources in the coming days — bookstores you can buy from instead of Amazon, online stores with socially positive attitudes that sell the same kind of goods, and resources for self-publishers who don’t want to woo the monster. If you have links you’d like to share, drop ’em here and I’ll add them in.