Yves here. Aside from the human tragedy here, one has to assume that Amazon’s fault-intolerance for online book vendors is no accident. After all, used book sellers compete with Amazon’s own new book and Kindle operations. Amazon would rather not have used book sales exist at all, so it probably regards what it can do at the margin (or more than at the margin) to clip their wings be all to the good.
One also has to wonder if Amazon’s rigidity here is also due to the fact that the bookseller is a library, since libraries undermine the need to buy books. If any readers know of other libraries being treated badly by Amazon, please pipe up in comments.
Hoisted from comments:
September 26, 2017 at 6:45 pm
I am getting to see the power of Amazon’s monopoly first hand. I volunteer for an organization that holds book sales to support the local library. We also sell books online – on Amazon. About a third of our sales are through Amazon. This summer, one of our two paid people, who fulfills online sales, went on vacation. He recommended that our Amazon store be shut down while he was gone, so that no mistakes would be made in his absence. His recommendation was not taken. In his absence, volunteers made a few mistakes; not big ones; trivial ones. And so, Amazon shut down the store: for real, permanently. And that is that. There is no recourse. There is no human to contact. There is no way of undoing this. Amazon doesn’t care; this is a trivial amount of money to them. They don’t want to deal with nuisances like imperfect humans, and they don’t have to.
So, my main problem is not the income for our organization. It is the effect it is having on the employee (who I do not supervise in any way, and I rarely see due to my volunteering schedule). He has always had back issues but since the store shut down he is in unrelenting pain. He can barely move. His physical agony is unrelenting. He has crappy health insurance that covers surgery, but doesn’t cover alternative treatments, and of course he has no money since his pay is not high and this is an extremely costly area to live in. So his doctors are starting to push surgery. It is all due to this Amazon store thing; he is like an utterly helpless squashed bug. The organization is not going to lay him off, I’m sure, but the point of his employment is gone. The volunteers who are in charge of his being employed themselves have a sick, hunted look.
There is some way of selling some books still through Amazon, in which they hold them. But that is complicated and doesn’t work for books that sell very slowly – like antiquarian books; the ones I most hope to see placed. The more I hear about this, and think about this, the more I see that Amazon is the only game in town. No-one buys books on Ebay. No-one goes to individual online bookstores anymore. Amazon “owns” the book business.