Friday, January 22, 2010

What is wrong with using Amazon?

What is wrong with using Amazon?
In 2001 the Guardian first reported on the poor working conditions in Amazon's
warehouses, and nothing much has changed since. In December 2008, a Sunday Times
reporter went undercover to their Marston Gate warehouse near Milton Keynes and
discovered that staff were required to work seven days a week and were punished for
taking sick leave, even if they had a note from their doctor. According to Unite the
Union, Amazon continues to see trade union representation as illegitimate.

But it’s not just Amazon workers who suffer at the hands of the multi-national
corporation. Publishers are also squeezed for every penny, as Amazon forces them to
supply them at rates so low that it leaves authors and publishers out of pocket –
particularly damaging smaller publishing houses. Amazon’s dominance of the market
means that publishers have little choice but to comply with their demands. Aside
from the ethical considerations, this affects readers in reduced output from small
presses, and diminished availability of radical titles.

Providing an ethical alternative
And so into this arena steps Housmans Bookshop. Housmans, in conjunction with
Gardners Books, has just launched its own online bookshop to rival Amazon. Although
still prioritising their stock of radical interest and progressive politics, the
site is also able to provide around half a million general titles.

“Many of our most politically conscious colleagues use Amazon, and when asked why,
it’s because they know of no alternative. But now, wherever they live, people will
be able to support independent and progressive bookselling from the comfort of their
own home. I think it’s essential that we are able to provide an alternative to help
dent Amazon’s monopoly,” explains co-manager Nik Gorecki. “It’s up to sympathetic
book buyers to do the right thing, and buy their books elsewhere.”

“This year Housmans celebrates fifty years of trading from our Caledonian Road
address, but in order for us to be here another fifty years we have to stand up for
ourselves, and trust in ethically-minded book-buyers to support independents. The
staff at Housmans has fought many battles over the years for causes we believe in,
and this is one battle we can’t afford to lose. Please support the shop that
supports your campaigns!”

Housmans Bookshop
5 Caledonian Road
King's Cross
London N1 9DX
Tel: 020 7837 4473