It’s a really tough one. I understand the Amazon hate, I really do – the treatment of the warehouse staff and delivery drivers, the unsafe conditions and terrible pay. Even as I admit to relying on them far too often as a customer during lockdown, and the easy habit that has created particularly when working from home, I know that this speed of fulfillment is only created by truly exploitative practices.
I also know that as an independent author, the impact of the Amazon self-publishing platform has had an impact on a par with the creation of the Gutenberg press, when it comes to removal of gatekeepers and democratising access. I could not have released either of the Healthy Happy Homeworking series this fast via the traditional publishing route, nor could I control their appearance and price and accessibility. I acknowledge that the traditional publishing industry has paid a terrible price for Amazon’s absorption of their role, but this greatly benefitted those who create and sell things on the platform, in ways that nothing else can match – and it’s not just writers, there are so many small businesses who operate through Amazon around the world.
And it’s the global aspect which is most compelling. From the homeworking point of view, I know there are digital nomads (well maybe not so nomadic right now, but they will be again..) who are using Amazon to fulfil physical product orders via dropshipping from one country to another, while they reside in a third of their choice, never seeing or touching the goods themselves.
For me as an author it’s astonishing that I can upload a digital file, which a somebody in India or Mexico can order from their local store, which will then be printed and delivered to them directly – my words, my book in physical form, but it never enters the hemisphere I live in. I WILL get non-Amazon purchase option added to the book pages on this site as soon as possible, but that will only ever be for e-books – I cannot possibly offer physical books direct to customers in any realistic way (unless you live in Eastern Spain and want to buy a copy directly from me in which case drop me a message, or if you’re a bookshop and want to stock my titles then I’d love to hear from you too).
So while they’re dominant and evil, the argument to use Amazon is powerful, and persuasive. And I am conflicted.
I did a Facebook live about this earlier, and I’d love to know what you think, please weigh in through the comments with your thoughts.
And meanwhile I’ll continue to give our local delivery guy fresh cold water when he’s flaking out in his hot van, and a smile as I take in parcels for half the street, as every home-based worker will know and understand…