Amazon Wake

Amazon Wake

A New York Times article has been blasting across many websites this morning. Thank God! I have been researching the impact that Amazon is having on our culture, and the picture that I’m finding is not appealing. The Amazon family of companies is impacting the availability of essentials:

Food

– pantry items: “Amazon’s Prime Pantry Service Lets You Buy and Ship 45 Pounds of Groceries For a $6 Fee”
– Subscribe & Save: “6 Ways to Beat Amazon’s Prices”

Clothing

– sales partners: “Amazon Favours Brands Like Burberry and Levis with ‘Pay To Play’ Strategy”

Shelter

‐ household supplies, major appliances, construction tools

Employment

– warehouses: “Worse Than WalMart”
– crowdsourcing: “The Unregulated Work of Mechanical Turk”
– merchants: “What Amazon Doesn’t Tell Third-Party Sellers”
–  professional services: “Amazon Eyes Local Services Market”
– affiliates who provide links to amazon.com on their webpages

Business

‑ web services, tools, and supplies: “Amazon’s Wholesale Slaughter” for janitors, industries, medical professionals, building contractors, scientists, and others
‑ small business: “Retail Predatory Pricing Bully Tactics”

Leisure

‑ reading: “Amazon controls about a third of the book business”
‑ toys, games, etc.

Social Justice

‑ Smile: “Why Amazon is Smiling and Charities May Be Losing”

Christopher Zara wrote that Amazon’s competitors are seeing

“ a world where storefronts are obsolete and economies are stimulated not by local merchants with a personal stake in where they do business but by a select few online players. It can be a depressing prospect if you care about things like civic engagement, livability and social capital, all of which tend to decline with the disappearance of local businesses.”

My friends and family are finding ways to start boycotting Amazon. Rob Hopkins posted at the Transition Network, in reference to Amazon, “I give so much of my time every day to trying to create a different, more just, more resilient world, yet my shopping decisions undermine that.” The resulting discussion raises issues about alternatives, Amazon’s motives, international laws that govern sales, and whether Google is posing a similar threat.

According to the New York Times article that is spreading like wildfire around the world this morning, John Grisham, Stephen King, Lemony Snicket, Nora Roberts, and 900+ other writers signed a letter that will be posted as a full-page ad in this Sunday’s New York Times. It is fueling debate about Amazon’s relationship with book publishers. The writers organized as Authors United. You can read the letter at their website.

Even Simon Head couldn’t help but support Amazon when salon.com reviewed his book “Mindless: Why Smarter Machines Are Making Dumber Humans”. He says that you might find that doing business with Amazon is “morally indefensible” after reading his reports. Yet, links to buy his book (and other anti-amazon books) land readers at amazon.com!

Some of my links above give ideas for alternatives to doing business with Amazon. Please share ideas in the comment section below, so we can each find more alternatives to supporting Amazon’s business practices.


Image Credit:
Original Image by Claudio Toledo
Creative Commons License This work is used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License.

Modified by Grace Buchanan
Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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11 thoughts on “Amazon Wake

  1. Here’s an Amazon oldie but goodie: http://bit.ly/1ks85Lc

    I loved Amazon Prime when I was a student but can’t in good conscience sign up for it anymore as the company gives new meaning to the fascist underpinnings of capitalism in America. At Amazon, we see the fusion of the corporation and the state. Bezos capture of the Washington Post is a prime (pun intended) example of this dichotomy: http://bit.ly/1ks8qxq

    Like farming, the publishing industry will need to decentralize but, unlike farming, need not be confined to localized distribution due to the internet. Like the printing press, the internet has enabled the dissemination of information and art at unprecedented scales, hence the push to neuter net neutrality.

    Keep digging, Grace.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Jeff, thank you for taking the time to leave a comment, and such a juicy one at that.

      Thank you for pointing out the petition regarding the Washington Post, CIA and Amazon Web Services. I was glad when I saw that the Washington Post responded directly to the group that submitted the petition, and in the WashPo. I’m glad that this article keeps the spotlight on the subtle connection between the 3 organizations, and presses for it to be more conspicuous. I like how the writers put it,

      “sunshine is the best disinfectant for any potential conflict of interest.”

      In that regard, I see the request as reasonable:

      “Why not provide a sentence in the Post’s substantive coverage of CIA activities, to the effect that “The Post’s owner Jeff Bezos is the largest stakeholder in Amazon, which has a $600 million contract with the CIA”?”

      I am saddened by the Post’s response,

      “your proposal is far outside the norm of disclosures”.

      So what? Since when does “the norm” stop a leader?

      I am dizzy with thoughts about the concealed facts behind this CIA/Amazon relationship, in the name of security or business interest.

      The Atlantic reported that Amazon Web Services will,

      “avoid the kind of intelligence gaps that preceded the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.”

      Do Atlantic readers still think that 9/11 happened because of intelligence gaps?

      Amazon’s relationship with the CIA also chills me when I reflect on the state of amazon.com’s search engine. I am consistently dissatisfied with its results. It does not give me easy access to what I’m wanting. It seems to lead me to what Amazon wants me to buy. So, when I read that Amazon will

      “help the IC [intelligence community] discover, access and share critical information in an era of seemingly infinite data.”

      I shudder. I don’t like the way Amazon “helps” me discover, access and share my consumer options in their environment of seemingly infinite consumer goods.

      For anyone wondering about the status of the Amazon/CIA arrangement, ZDNet reported on Aug. 5 that it went live.

      Amazon isn’t just selling books. Or food. Or CIA web services. They are doing it all. On a global scale.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post. And amazing learning in the comments section.
    I hope we all have the foresight to see where we are going. In Ireland the town shops are closing by the day because of the online shopping and large multi national stores which simply breeze in and take over.
    Great post.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Frankie. Your appreciation keeps me sharing my writing here 🙂

      I share your concern about town shops closing, especially when I buy online and at multinational stores that are huge and aggressive. I am learning to rely on them less.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This makes for very interesting reading Grace. So far I’ve only bought books from them, and I REALLY don’t understand why I have to pay $2 extra to download an ebook – the one time I tried to buy a Kindle they said it couldn’t be shipped here. Makes you wonder what the future holds – Amazon for world president.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. What are you using as an eReader? I tried a Kobo, but had so much grief that I returned it: screen wouldn’t respond, device wouldn’t respond even though the screen responded, factory reset didn’t work, help webpages had broken links and were for a different model…those were the worst of the problems. So, I have a Kindle and am as happy as I can be, considering that it is an Amazon product, but I bought it from Best Buy (suffering terribly from Amazon’s competition, and the Kindle is the only eReader they stock, and they beat Amazon’s price), and it is reliable. I’m starting to read my 4th book tonight. 🙂

      “Amazon for world president.” What an idea! [shudder] Sounds like a possible campaign. Election? or dictatorship.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’ve just got the bottom of the range plain old Kindle – it’s all I could find at the local shops, but I’m happy with it. I do a lot of reading on my PC, especially when I’m planning to do a review. The Kindle only comes out for King or Pratchett and those old guys. 🙂 X

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I can’t imagine reading a whole book on a PC. I couldn’t get through your short book “Visitation” until I got an eReader. I just finished enjoying your much longer book “African Me and Satellite TV”. Hooray!

          King? I suppose you mean Stephen, not Martin Luther 🙂 I have never been able to read such books. I only became somewhat able to watch such movies this summer, as I began to write my cathartic novel. But that’s another story, completely off-topic.

          Funny that you could get a Kindle locally when amazon wouldn’t ship one to you.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. I am afraid that I tend to agree with the close of the New York Times article:

    “It’s possible to be able to have a world where you can take advantage of the convenience of online shopping and still have a healthy local business community. That’s a huge thing that’s at stake in the future.”

    We are a long, long way from that day/world. We are still talking about early adopters of digital technologies and digital ways. We can’t even predict what the marketplace will look like once the online retail environment becomes ‘main stream’.

    Obviously there are many problems, many things to fear from any monopoly. I have my concerns about Amazon just like everyone else. BUT — WalMart has not eliminated small business, and I don’t think Amazon can or will either.

    Nobody can, or will, shut down Amazon. It simply time to meet the challenge — and get smarter. 🙂 Innovation. Creativity. Change. With us, or without us innovation, creativity, and change will define the future. Will we choose to be at the effect of it — or will we be amongst those who ride the wave and contribute to the change? Will we choose to help invent it?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Dear Leni, I can count on you to share a vision of peace between online giants and small local businesses. Thank you.

      You make a great point about predictions. I like to keep in mind that different forecasters are using different factors, and weighing them differently, to arrive at different conclusions.

      I see Walmart as having a significant difference from Amazon: it is not as diversified or innovatively clever.

      I would like to see Amazon split into smaller units so it loses its power to impose unfair business practices, while continuing to brilliantly innovate.

      Liked by 1 person

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