Here's the "Dear John" letter I just sent them. Feel like sending one of your own? I'd encourage it--it's easy. Tell 'em Cat sent ya. Feel like being part of a Blog Swarm? Given how many books most readers of this blog read, I'd guess the message will get through. Leave a comment if you write to them or blog on the subject. Let's see if we can get that 900-pound gorilla to quit standing on our collective foot...
If you'll look over my account history, you'll know that I'm one of your best customers. Given a choice between clothes and books, between cable TV and books, or probably between food and books--though it hasn't yet come to that--I'm likely to choose the books.
And you guys are my besetting sin. I love your rapid delivery, your customer service, and, above all, your selection.
So why do I call you a sin? Because I'm a Pagan, and a Quaker--a member of two religious minorities at once, and both halves of my equation read a lot of books. But they're not mass-market titles, and they probably never will be--only beginner books have much mass-market appeal. The small publishers who create and the small bookstores who carry my books deserve my support.
Until recently, though, I comforted myself that, if you were in competition with independent book-sellers, you also brought a market to book resellers that is enormous, and that you so often carried the books of small presses that you surely made it possible for many of them to find markets they might otherwise never have found.
Now, however, I hear that you are pressuring small publishers, like Asphodel, Waning Moon, and Immanion Press, to switch to your in-house Print-on-Demand service, Booksurge, instead of other POD services, or you'll remove the option to buy these books directly from you, or to qualify for that highly-motivating free shipping.
But Booksurge is more expensive, and publishing the high-quality titles that target the small audience for religious books is not very profitable already.
What I'm looking at, as a book-lover, is the scary prospect of the online bookstore I love putting the small-house publishers I need between a rock and a hard place. Some will probably shut down. The niche they fill will not be replaced by any of the big players--the profit margins are just too small.
I can't accept that. Amazon, this is wrong. You're already the 900-pound gorilla who sits anywhere he wants to in the world of book selling. But if you keep throwing that weight around, there are going to be fewer books for readers like me.
So I'm putting my foot down, Amazon. Until you make it clear that this "strategic decision" has been reversed, I'll be buying my used books from the Advanced Book Exchange, and my new titles either locally or from online services like Quaker Books, Barnes and Noble, or one of the dozens of online Pagan booksellers serving my community.
Honestly? You guys are the best at customer service. But it does none of us any good if you destroy--or even damage--the small publishers that crazy book-addicts like me need to make it through the night.
Quaker Pagan Reflections
In addition to the convenient link for email, snail mail correspondence with the giant is possible. Write them at:
P.O. Box 81226
Seattle, WA 98108-1226