Although Amazon, the enormous on-line retailer, has said it will begin collecting sales taxes and returning them to the state of purchase, thereby moving off my absolutely-do-not shop here list, it remains on my only-use-in-an-emergency box.
Quite simply, it is a threat to all the small retail outlets we need for a vibrant economic and inter-related community. It is by its size, and it is by its practices. Lately it has offered to undercut the price of any book anywhere if the shopper will provide proof — easy enough these days with cameras and bar-code scanners.
Stephanie Clifford in the NY Times Business Section on January 16 takes stock of this threat and what some are doing to counter it.
Harold Pollack used to spend $1,000 a year on Amazon, but this fall started buying from small online retailers instead. The prices are higher, but Dr. Pollack says he now has a clear conscience.
Giant e-commerce companies like Amazon are acting increasingly like their big-box brethren as they extinguish small competitors with discounted prices, free shipping and easy-to-use apps. Big online retailers had a 19 percent jump in revenue over the holidays versus 2010, while at smaller online retailers growth was just 7 percent.
The little sites are fighting back with some tactics of their own, like preventing price comparisons or offering freebies that an anonymous large site can’t. And in a new twist, they are also exploiting the sympathies of shoppers like Dr. Pollack by encouraging customers to think of them as the digital version of a mom-and-pop shop facing off against Walmart: If you can’t shop close to home, at least shop small.
I recommend the article to you.
I encourage you to shop locally whenever possible, and to shop at alternatives to Amazon, Barnes and Noble and the like.
I have my wish-lists at Powell’s in Portland, at Alibris and ABEBooks. I’ve had experience with all of them. Never had a failed delivery. All the — mostly used– books are in good condition. No reason at all not to have an account and look there first. Amazon does do one think none other others do, and that’s offer some pages to skim through before purchase. Google Books does that with many, and anyway, reading the Table of Contents and a random page or two does not obligate you to buy.
Give these others a try. You’ll feel better
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