Here’s something I wanna say real quick, while I’m feeling salty: Amazon has totally contributed to the devaluation of literature. Those prices you see, the $13 they’re asking you to pay for a hardcover book? Those are deep, DEEP discounts that they’re able to implement because they don’t collect sales tax if they can get away with it, they don’t contribute money to the communities where they have a physical presence, they have shitty labor practices, Jeff Bezos has more money than god, etc.
They’re so omnipotent at this point that they’ve normalized the discounted prices for books as the standard. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had someone come up to me and tell me what the price on Amazon is, expecting me to match it. The number of times I’ve been told, “Oh, it’s cheaper on Amazon, I’ll just get it there.” Even at author events, where book sales DIRECTLY CONTRIBUTE to whether or not that bookstore will be able to get more authors in.
So when you go into a bookstore, and you’re asked to pay $27 for a hardcover, remember: THAT IS THE COVER PRICE. Set by the publishers. The bookstore is not upcharging you. They are asking you to pay the value of the book. Amazon’s low prices come with a cost. Please, just keep that in mind.
(I made a post with options for buying books online that aren’t Amazon. Check it out!)
This is a great post, and I just want to point out: publishers aren’t upcharging you either.
The cost of the book is the advance for the author, it’s the salaries for all the people who work on it (including editors, yes, but also designers and marketers and publicists and lawyers and accountants and everyone else who makes sure publishing works). It’s the cost of printing the books and the materials to print those books on and the warehouses to store those books in. It’s keeping the literal lights on.
No one in the book business, from the author to the publisher to the bookseller, is making themselves rich off your money. This is the cost to survive. Amazon is running at a deficit because they can make up the cost with other things they do, and because once they run everyone else out of business, they’ll be the only game in town and can charge whatever they damn well please.
And please, please do not ask a bookstore (especially an indie bookstore) if they “price match.” It’s so insulting.
Amazon routinely sells books at or *below* wholesale cost. Meaning that when you ask a bookstore to ‘price match’ Amazon, you’re literally asking them to give you the book for free, or even take a financial loss on it.
‘So how can Amazon do it?’ you ask? The answer is Amazon does not care about losing money. It sells goods at a loss continuously. (Don’t believe me? Just search “Amazon quarterly losses” and you can find article after article about this) Why? Because its goal isn’t to sell the most things, it’s goal is to be the only place where you CAN buy things. They gouge prices on goods to a point where brick and mortar retailers absolutely cannot compete and they do it with the singular goal of eliminating competition.
Things have value. They represent many people’s time and labor. For books, specifically, they represent tremendous cultural worth that extends far beyond the value of the paper they’re printed on. We have to appreciate the value of goods and be willing to pay a fair price that will support and nurture industries.
It’s ok to be upset that you can’t afford $26 for a new hardcover, but make sure that that anger is directed, not at the people whose labor makes books possible, but at the people on top (like Jeff Bezos) who have devalued your own labor such that you can’t afford it.
^^^ if anyone is wondering this is LITERALLY the exact same strategy that Walmart used to destroy any small business and fuck over local economies.
Might I suggest Indie Bound for those who still need the option of home delivery?
I’ve been using Bookshop also :)