In the High Peaks

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Amazon Belly Flops Again--Want a Book, Go Elsewhere

On March 17th, Amazon made its first announcement that it would, for the unforseeable future, prioritize its sales of household supplies, grocery items, pharmacy items, etc. Amazon also stated that the company was planning to add 100,000 workers to its forces to cope with the huge demand for household supplies.  (I don't know, but that's what Amazon said it planned to do--no time frame was indicated in its reports to the press.) All to get that toilet paper out there! As Governor Andrew Cuomo said  about hoarding on Saturday in his daily public press briefing, "Do you really need 100 rolls of toilet paper?"

So where are books and readers in Amazon's grand emergency plan? Where are children and families needing books, games, and other forms of educational materials and entertainment during this time of isolation?
Ebooks on Kindle devices will continue to be sold and delivered immediately.
Print books will NOT be prioritized by Amazon.
If you want a hard-copy paperback or hardcover book, you will not receive your book until April 22nd if you order today, Sunday, March 22nd. And, note this: The small type printed under this information states that if you do not receive your book by this date, Amazon will be willing to refund you, as a credit to future purchases. In other words, you may not get your book by April 22nd, yet Amazon will have had your money for one month.

For many book publishers, this is disastrous. Most of the books sold in this country are sold on Amazon. The big five publishers (who have only very recently become the big 4 publishers after the sale of Simon & Schuster) have contracts with Amazon, so their losses will not be as colossal as they will for all the other publishers, the independent publishers, of which there are thousands. These indies do not have the contracts, yet they rely on Amazon for most of their sales.

I would imagine that Amazon's decision is pure music to Barnes and Noble, the second-largest bookseller in the country. Barnes & Noble has been in dire financial straits for years now, but if you order a hardcover or paperback with them tonight, it will arrive Friday, March 27th.  March 27 vs. April 22, that's a no-brainer.

And, of course, for those of you who have local bookstores near you, by all means order your books from them. That process will deliver the books you want to read. My nearest independent is 60 miles from my home, so even though I visit very occasionally, it's not an option for the most part.

So what is Amazon doing? I don't think it's a stretch to believe that they're seeing this pandemic as a  huge opportunity. It's not far-fetched to think that they're trying to overwhelm Walmart, Target, and the big supermarket chains. Recruiting 100,000 new workers?

It's very, very hard to remember that Amazon started as an online bookseller, pure and simple. That was back in the mid-late 1990s.
Information gathered from Publishers Weekly magazine,, and other press outlets.


  1. I had no idea that Amazon was doing this. I agree that local bookstores are the way to go. Maybe this will help them a bit. In the past, when I wanted a physical book I was going through them anyway. However, I have mostly switched to ebooks.

    1. Hi Brian,
      Yeah, Amazon will still be selling ebooks, though I've lost faith in them for the moment.
      Where do you get most of your ebooks, by the way? Just want to make sure I'm not missing a good source!

  2. How crazy is that! I don't know if Amazon is doing the same here or not.

  3. Yes, I saw this on the news a day or two ago and thought it was a really odd thing for them to do. Given how profit conscious all these big businesses are, to the point of ruthlessness, it wouldn't surprise me if they have it in mind to get shot of all competition. Yes! That was my first thought when I hear about it... that they started out as a simple online bookseller. So much for that. While we were in Penzance last week I made a point of going to their lovely indie bookshop and making a few purchases. I hope they survive this crisis.