By now everyone has heard of the Amazon “price check” offer. Basically, Amazon wants you to window shop at a real bookstore and check the book on their Amazon app. If you did this, Amazon would give you a 10% discount if you ordered the book, up to $15. Obviously this was extremely controversial. There were calls to boycott Amazon, with not a few “occupy Amazon” type protests breaking out. I am not exactly sure how you picket Amazon’s store, but the anger was real.
The truth is that we do this sort of thing all the time. There are many times I stop by my local bookstore and notice some new novel on the “just released” shelf at retail price. I then go online and buy it on Amazon for 40% off. Maybe Barnes and Noble is close in price to Amazon, but the local bookseller cannot compete on the “big sellers” like Stephen King or the latest Harry Potter wannabe.
But for most of the things I read, my local booksellers are pretty competitive with Amazon.
There is one thing that Amazon does that my local seller cannot. I have bought enough from Amazon over the last ten years that the AI hive-mind behind Amazon does a pretty good job at guessing what I might like. In addition, I can look through reviews of books and compare editions much easier on Amazon than the local seller. Even the “other people who bought this also purchased” suggests are amazingly good. There have been a few times the user-created lists have introduced me to some book or author I did not know about.
So here is my person form of protest against Amazon. I am going to browse Amazon, read their reviews (for free) and use their tools (for free), then I am going to go to The Bookstore, Baker Books, or Schuler Books in Grand Rapids, Michigan and buy the book. Call it a reverse price check. Needless to say I am not going to buy the Kindle version (although I might get a used copy, in hardback of course!)
Join me in my version of the Occupy Amazon movement and buy your books locally.