I’m Fed Up With Amazon

News of Amazon’s atrocious labor practices, creepy surveillance deals, and Jeff Bezos’s idiotic techno-utopian space fantasies means that I can no longer use their affiliate program on this blog. For the time being I’ve stopped adding new links to Amazon products.

For years Amazon provided an ever decreasing affiliate income that, partly, pays the hosting bills for this blog and podcast. I’ve written about my ambivalence about Amazon before back in 2015 and many of you said, at the time, that you didn’t mind. I suspect, in the years since, many of you may have changed your mind about this company. I know I have.

Practically speaking, there is so much dubious, bootlegged content on Amazon’s website that I don’t trust it for purchases anymore. If I need something I will try to buy it directly from a company or a specialty retailer. Most of my books come from the library. When I do buy a book I should probably order it through my local bookstore Skylight (which has always been very generous to Kelly and I as authors–placing our books prominently and hosting a book launch event for us).

Right now I’m left with a problem. I’ve got hundreds of Amazon links embedded on this site and need to ponder what I’m going to do about that. When Amazon dumped California-based affiliates a few years ago rather than pay their taxes I switched to Portland-based Powell’s partner program but nobody used it. I’ve also got a Patreon program and, while thankful for those of you who chip in, I think I’d rather sell a physical object (like a zine) rather than beg for donations.

So I’ve got a lot to think about and I’m interested in your feedback. Do you use Amazon? What do you use it for? Do you mind affiliate links?

Leave a comment

10 Comments

  1. I do try not to patronize businesses who do not demonstrate values that are consistent with mine. However, I do make an exception with Amazon. Why? I live in a small town with very limited shopping opportunities–except for a big box store that I absolutely will not patronize. (The name of the store has 7 letters in its name.)
    The nearest big city to me has a serious (and escalating) crime problem–carjackings, shootings, day and night, etc. I am not about to drive around the city (a 100 or so mile round trip) in search of items that I can order online–vitamins, non-perishable grocery items, nutritional drinks for my mother, etc. So, I order from Amazon.
    I hope that I make up for this by actions that I take in other areas of my life.

  2. I don’t live in a big city but do fine without Amazon. Indie Bound is one source as well as direct ordering from publishers. New Society, Chelsea Green and Island Press have excellent on line catalogues. We also have a small local bookstore that is happy to special order.
    As for everything else, we have wonderful plant nurseries and second-hand stores. What else does one need?
    I appreciate your not supporting Amazon!

  3. Dear Mr Homegrown,

    I hear you. I’ve been blogging since 2006 and have scads upon scads of amazon affiliate links on my blog (which end up earning me less than the trouble of having created the links at minimum wage in, I dunno, Pakistan)…and so there are too many links to go back and change or remove them.

    And I also have some very serious concerns about amazon.

    Not that I have not attempted other avenues. In my experience Indiebound.org’s affiliate program was a total dud. Then when I tried to establish links instead to a favorite and long-standing cooperative bookstore, which did not even have an affiliate program (I just did it because it seemed the better thing to do), that was a dud, too. Too many of their URLs subsequently went dead and their search engine was so ridiculously bad… It did not provide a good shopping experience, shall we say, and part of my providing the amazon links is, after all, as a courtesy to both my readers and the authors I interview on my blog.

    Like it or not, most book buyers buy their books on amazon. That means most authors sell more on amazon as well.

    So I don’t have the answer.

    For me the conundrum boils down to this: amazon may be awful for many reasons, but it is still, by far & away, the most efficient and reliable way to find most books. (Not so for rare and used books, but that would be a different topic). So I end up buying most of the new books I buy from amazon and, at the same time, as an author, I sell the most on amazon as well.

    In fact, for me as an author, amazon has been fabulous. My heart goes to ye olde brick-and-mortar independent bookstores. But I sell much more on amazon.

    I wish it were different. I wish that that old fave cooperative bookstore could have a better search engine, more reliable links, and so on… I wish Indiebound.org had its act together. I sincerely wish we did not have one company exercising so much monopsony power. I wish there were 59 hours in the day. I wish, I wish…

    As for earning affiliate income to cover the costs of the blog, right now I am affiliate seller for the Freedom app It’s an app I use myself and warmly recommend to my writing workshop students.

    One avenue to explore (I have not yet) would be the abebooks.com affiliate program:
    https://www.abebooks.com/books/AffiliateProgram/index.shtml

    This could be good for out-of-print titles. I have found abebooks.com to be a more reliable way to find accurately listed used and rare books than amazon. (I cannot say this is always true, but mostly true.) That said, authors won’t get any royalties on used books sold, so I would never, ever interview an author and then provide a link to their book on abebooks– that would be most discourteous!!

    Other income for the blog: of course I also consider my blog a platform for selling my own books and workshops.

    Above all, for me blogging is not about money. I blog because it is my way of finding understanding and giving back in this world. Yes, it costs something for the domain name, the hosting, and my time. But it’s not like casting bronze sculpture.

    I very much look forward to reading more about your adventures in blogging.

  4. P.S. I meant to say, I really appreciate your blog, I read every post, and although I know that amazon is problematic, I do appreciate the convenience of the links you provide.

  5. First time, long time.
    I need to make sure that readers are aware that while trying to avoid Amazon, Abebooks is not an option.
    Unfortunately, Abebooks is also owned by Amazon.

    My family, too, avoids Amazon and will continue to do so as much as possible. Hopefully, more people will find value in the things/stuff they have, instead of buying the latest and greatest disposables.

  6. Well, your post has prompted me to go back and look at indiebound.org’s affiliate program again. I had signed up for it so many years ago that the site no longer recognizes my account! (Did I mention, it was a dud?) But I just signed up again… I gather it takes a while for them to review one’s application…

  7. I do not mind affiliate links. I appreciate finding out more information. And it is only fair that you make something from your efforts to do this blog.

  8. Pingback: Bozos in Space | Root Simple

  9. I have no problem with affiliate links, and I’m glad to hear that they help subsidise the blog and podcast. I mostly use Amazon as an Audible customer, and I deeply value that part of its business. But then, I’m in Australia and our local Amazon just doesn’t seem to have the product range, or the dominance of Amazon in the US.

    I definitely think it’s worth keeping an eye on any Amazon-alternatives that might come up, but overall it sounds like the time and effort it would take to replace Amazon in the site isn’t worth it. Your time on the site (IMHO) is better spent in writing or recording your own original content. I definitely want to see Amazon improve its labour practices. I was heartened to see it lift its minimum wage recently in the US. Maybe that’s a sign they can be persuaded to move on conditions as well, with time and public pressure?

Comments are closed.