June 10, 2014

Independent bookstores take on Amazon


Over the past few weeks, we’ve written quite a bit about the fight between Amazon and Hachette. If you’ve been living under a rock for the past month, here’s the gist: Amazon and Hachette are currently negotiating a new contract and it’s not going well, so Amazon has decided to extort the publisher by raising prices and delaying shipment. (You can read more of our coverage of the dispute here.) While publishers—aside from us, naturally—have largely kept silent, a number of high profile authors have come out against Amazon: James Patterson, Malcolm Gladwell, Stephen Colbert, and John Green are four notable examples. But they’re not the only ones fighting the good fight. Over the past few weeks, a number of independent booksellers have also weighed in. Below, you’ll find a few of our favorites.

Brazos, not Bezos: Houston’s excellent Brazos Bookstore has responded by putting up Hachette displays with clever, barbed captions like “You are all Prime members.”

I bought it at BookPeopleAustin’s BookPeople posted a great piece on their blog about the Amazon/Hachette dispute. An excerpt:

We understand that recently, for one online retailer that happens to sell books, the book business has been about something else: using its market share to not only bully our friends at Hachette Book Group, but to actively block readers from the books they want to read.

Does that sound as crazy to you as it does to us?

Here’s the promise we make to you as a supporter of your local independent bookstore: When you ask us for a book, we will do everything in our power to put it in your hands.


Taking a page from Colbert, they’ve also got stickers:


Help from J.K. Rowling doesn’t hurt: Seattle’s Third Place Books has promised to hand-deliver copies of Hachette author J.K. Rowling‘s newest novel The Silkworm. They released a statement explaining their decision:

“Third Place Books feels it’s important their customers realize the impact of Amazon pulling buy buttons, and making books unavailable to them has on the bookselling industry. Third Place Books will be taking this opportunity to emphasize their service and valuable role as a bricks and mortar independent bookstore in the community by taking pre-orders for The Silkworm, offered at 20% off, and delivering them by hand on Thursday, June 19th, Silkworm’s release day.”

Rowling, unsurprisingly, was thrilled:

Bear Pond Books is not Amazon: Montpelier’s Bear Pond Books had this to say: “Can you imagine if your local bookstore *intentionally* delayed selling you books just because we were mad at the publisher? Luckily at Bear Pond we actually like books and respect our customers!”

And Manhattan’s McNally Jackson is not a “mafioso bookdealer“:


San Francisco’s Book Passage turned “I didn’t buy it on Amazon” into bookmarks: 

Amazon doesn’t have the new David Sedaris, but Portsmouth, New Hampshire’s RiverRun Bookstore does: 

Petoskey, Michigan’s McLean & Eakin knows there’s a war going on in the bookselling world: 

Nashville’s Parnassus Books would like you to know that they’ve got it from here. (The copy of Brad Stone’s The Everything Store is an especially nice touch.)


This weekend Chapel Hill, North Carolina’s Flyleaf Books  is taking 10% off select Hachette titles. If you’re in The Triangle, help Flyleaf “beat the man/support awesome authors & publishers.”

I’m sure there are many more entertaining responses out there. Tweet your favorites to @melvillehouse or shoot me an email at alex [at] mhpbooks.com.


Alex Shephard is the director of digital media for Melville House, and a former bookseller.