Fort Collins Bookstore Owners React to Amazon

Eclectic Reader

Cynthia Manuel, owner of The Eclectic Reader in Fort Collins, calls bookselling one of the most difficult businesses to be in and she says the online book retailer Amazon is not helping.

She says, “Amazon is attempting to take over the world of online book selling.”

But there’s not a lot that she can do to fight back except to offer a brick-and-mortar store.

An article in The New York Times revealed that Amazon was delaying the delivery of some books and deleting the preorder button for Hachette titles.

The Times article says, “Whether even the combined efforts of the publishers and competitive efforts of rival retailers can dent Amazon’s market power remains to be seen. Amazon accounts for about a third of book sales in the United States and 60 percent of Hachette’s digital sales. The person involved in the Hachette negotiations wasn’t optimistic for the publishers.”

Manuel remembers fourteen bookstores in the past thirty years that have gone out of business in Fort Collins. Amazon has been accused of squeezing out the little guy in the past but booksellers accuse them of becoming more greedy and aggressive.

She says, “I know that Amazon has been working behind the scenes. They are getting greedier and greedier because they’re attempting to close out Abe Books which is another book site that they bought. They bought that company and now they’re trying to get all the booksellers out of that company. So there are a lot of shenanigans we probably don’t even know about but my belief is that they’re just trying to get a bigger share of the market, trying to control the market and they’re definitely getting greedier.”

Pam Wilson, manager of Booklover’s Used Books in Fort Collins, however, does not think that Amazon affects her business.

She says, “Amazon is great. It serves a purpose. We aren’t really in competition with them. As a used bookstore, we’re a different genre than what they have. Typically when people want used books, they want them right now. So, with Amazon, they have to wait, they have to pay shipping, so I don’t feel like they’re in competition with our particular store.”

Love or hate Amazon, the local bookstores encourage readers to check with their local bookstores first before going to the big chain bookstores like Amazon.

Wilson says, “I’d say anytime you can shop local, shop local because that’s what keeps us around. If we all go to big box stores, everyone loses their flare and their flavor so we appreciate that people check with us first before they go to a national chain. It’s really helpful for us.”

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