Will other booksellers follow Powell’s in just saying ‘no’ to Amazon?
Twenty-six years after Amazon.com was founded as a bookseller, Powell’s, the iconic independent book chain in Portland, OR, has decided to stop selling books on the e-tailing giant’s platform.
Powell’s, which was founded in 1971, claims to be the world’s largest new and used independent bookseller with four stores, including a downtown flagship spanning a full city block.
“For too long, we have watched the detrimental impact of Amazon’s business on our communities and the independent bookselling world,” CEO Emily Powell wrote last week in a blog entry to customers. “The vitality of our neighbors and neighborhoods depends on the ability of local businesses to thrive. We will not participate in undermining that vitality.”
Like other retailers, Powell’s had been supplementing its in-store and own online business by listing its books on Amazon’s marketplace and sharing a cut of every purchase.
“It was hard to give up, sort of like smoking,” Ms. Powell told CNBC. “We knew we shouldn’t be doing it, but, you know, we sort of needed it from a sales perspective to keep going. We couldn’t face the possibility of not having that sales channel.”
Powell’s was finding it more expensive to support its Amazon sales with advertising and fast shipping.
The independent retailer was forced to lean more heavily on its own e-commerce sales in recent months as it closed its stores in March and Amazon prioritized essentials across the platform due to the pandemic. Sales from Powells.com initially surged due to pent-up demand and community support but slowed by late May as the chain found itself in a more normalized selling climate competing directly with Amazon.
“They have all the money and they have all the technology,” Ms. Powell told The Oregonian in an interview in late May. “Certainly, we don’t have that kind of firepower.”
The move comes as Amazon is facing greater scrutiny from regulators over its market power and treatment of sellers on its platform.
- An Update From Emily Powell – Powell’s
- Iconic Portland bookstore Powell’s says it won’t sell directly on Amazon anymore: ‘We must take a stand’ – CNBC
- Powell’s says it won’t sell books on Amazon anymore: ‘We must take a stand’ – The Oregonian/OregonLive
- Iconic American bookstore Powell’s ditches Amazon, and says quitting the tech giant is like kicking a smoking habit – Business Insider
- Powell’s Books will be back, CEO Emily Powell pledges, but not soon – The Oregonian/OregonLive
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Is now the right time for Powell’s to stop selling on Amazon’s marketplace? Will the changes brought about by COVID-19 incentivize other independent retailers to forego selling on Amazon?