These opinions are my own, and I’m entitled to have them
I try to stay out of the fray of internet comments on twitter and the like about the current state of bookselling. I should be more interested since I am, in fact, the owner of a bookstore. But more importantly, I’m the owner of a small business. And as the owner of a small business I am extremely conscious of where I spend my money. I don’t shop at Walmart. I don’t shop at Amazon and any of its many many many websites. That’s my choice. And that’s ok.
But the recent conversation online about Amazon’s newest tactics in lowering prices even further, compounded by President Obama’s decision to speak about the economy from an Amazon warehouse, has just put me over the edge. I know people love Amazon and will defend its convenience and prices staunchly. And that’s their right. But there’s been a lot of internet chatter portraying indie booksellers as if we are whiny children, stomping our feet because we can’t get all the candy in the jar. Mad that we have to share. Mad that other kids get more candy than us. This patronizing tone about indies makes me nuts. So I’m getting this off my chest.
Let’s get this straight: it’s no secret that the conditions in Amazon warehouses are questionable. It’s no secret that the treatment of Amazon employees is questionable. It’s no secret that Amazon’s tactics at avoiding paying sales tax is completely unquestionably ridiculously unfair to small business. And I don’t think it’s a secret that all small businesses, not just bookstores, are being threatened by the monopoly that is Amazon. Yes, I’m aware that other online retailers and mass merchandisers lowball prices. It’s been that way for a long time. But there is no comparison here. Amazon is a giant bully, and it’s growing bigger and meaner every day. And the fact that the government is on its side has never been more apparent than today.
Reading the transcript of Obama’s speech literally makes me feel like I’m reading an Onion piece, or a sci-fi novel. It just doesn’t seem like it could be true. How could we be so out of sync, me and my President? Amazon is actively going after Main Street after Main Street in every town in every state in this country and I am pissed off about it. And I’M ALLOWED TO BE PISSED OFF ABOUT IT. So let me. I’m not saying YOU have to be. But if you own a small business and lots of your time and heart and money are tied up in it, then you understand. And if you’re not a small business owner, you might not. The End. Stop scolding people who are upset about this, trying to get us to see it another way. This is real to us. Hearing my President talk about Amazon as a hero effects me in a real way. Yes, maybe it’s an unreasonable emotional way more than a completely rational one, but so what?
People really love their cats and post pictures of them every minute. Am I constantly going online and telling cat lovers to relax, that dogs are great too, that they should really get over themselves and grow up and stop talking about cats all the time? No, I’m not. So leave me alone. Let me brood. Because man, I’m feeling broody.