I am fairly convinced that Amazon is, or will become, Buy-n-Large. When Wall-e first came out, my sense was that the filmmakers were not-so-subtly critiquing big-box chains like Walmart. But, let’s be honest. If the future were anything like that movie (and to be clear, it wouldn’t be, because if there was no ongoing photosynthesis on a post-human earth, a bunch of humans wouldn’t be able to land their star-cruiser and then just walk outside and breathe because the air would be toxic and, while we’re on the subject, in an actual post-human earth nature would immediately take over, vines covering our infrastructure, have you see than documentary about Chernobyl?), it’s not Walmart that’s going to rule the world — it’s Amazon.
Amazon (and it’s related businesses and CEO’s pet-projects) is already doing or working toward many of the things that Buy-n-Large does in the film, including having its own media outlets, automation, space tourism and, most recently, the purchase of a company that makes robots that clean up after us. And, while millions of people died and went into poverty during the pandemic, they made a gazillion dollars.
So, long story short, they don’t need our money. Especially the money from people who write and/or love books.
Which has me saying, “There’s gotta be a better way!”
And there is, Kevin! It’s called Bookshop.org. You generally can’t get your books delivered by a drone within twenty-four hours, and you can’t simultaneously buy a book and a three-wolf-moon t-shirt, but you can get lots and lots of books, including many of the obscure and hyper-nerdy books me and my colleagues in Buddhist Studies love to write and read. And when you buy books from Bookshop.org, they give some of the money to your favorite local bookstore rather than the giant pile of money in Jeff Bezos’ basement (I mean, I assume that’s what all cartoonish super villains have in their basements).
To top it off, if you’re an author, you can become an “affiliate” of Bookshop.org and have your own shop on the site. If you were the kind of author who actually made a living off your books (unlike me, hashtag RealAcademicBios), then you might actually make a small royalty off the sales from your shop, but I’m not really sure about that. Again, I don’t make money off my books, and don’t expect I ever will, so when I set up my affiliate shop I didn’t really pay attention to that part.
On that note, I’ve got an affiliate shop! The primary reason I did this was as a way to direct people to my books without linking to my Amazon author page. So if you go to my shop on Bookshop.org, the first “collection” you’ll see are books I’ve written or co-edited. Huzzah!
And since they allow you to make other collections, I did. The “recent reads” are, in most cases, so recent I’m still reading them. And I decided to throw together a collection of Buddhist studies recommendations, most of which are fairly arbitrary choices, the first things that came to my head, or books by people I know and think are awesome. I am sure to be updating this list, and when I do, I’ll post about it on Twitter.