Retail

Indie Bookseller Says ‘We Must Take A Stand,’ Abandons Amazon

To celebrate Independent Bookstore Day this year, a third-generation family-owned bookstore has declared its independence from Amazon.com Inc.

Powell’s Books, which offers more than 1 million new and used books on 1.6 acres of retail floor space at its flagship store, Powell’s City of Books, in Portland, Oregon, said as mom and pop book shops face extinction amid COVID-19, it is time to take a stand.

“For too long, we have watched the detrimental impact of Amazon’s business on ... the independent bookselling world,” Emily Powell wrote on the company’s website. “We have decided to mark this year’s Independent Bookstore Day by announcing that we will no longer sell our books on Amazon’s marketplace.”

Powell said no one goes into the book business expecting an easy path, as each year brings a new set of challenges. But this year, as the coronavirus forced the closing of stores, is unlike any other in memory.

“The vitality of our neighbors and neighborhoods depends on the ability of local businesses to thrive,” she wrote. “We will not participate in undermining that vitality.”

Independent Bookstore Day is a one-day party that takes place at indie bookstores across the country. Typically, it has been held on the last Saturday in April. The virus pushed it off until late summer. The trade group consists of more than 600 local bookstores in the U.S.

Earlier this year, PYMNTS reported Amazon is the biggest force in book sales in the U.S. market today, accounting for over 90 percent of eBooks and audiobooks, and as much as 45 percent of print sales. But as many shoppers prefer to buy their books from Amazon to save money and enjoy the ease of one-click shopping, other customers decidedly don’t shop with Amazon.

While independent bookstores have been pushed out by Barnes & Noble, Borders and Amazon, the indie stores have been making a comeback in the U.S. Their sales rose nearly 5 percent in 2018, with average annual growth of 7.5 percent over the past five years, according to the American Booksellers Association.

But that was before COVID-19 reached the U.S.

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