amazon guilt

I confess, I sometimes buy things at amazon.com.

I confess, I feel guilty about this.

(sidebar: I confess, I’m old enough to remember when amazon was pretty much just a big long menu with a jungle-themed black and white banner, are you?)

This morning I wrestled mightily with that serpent-of-guilt. Here’s the story: I’m taking a spring term class through Stanford’s continuing studies department, and I needed to order the required texts. Normally when I buy poetry, I like to buy directly from the press that published the collection, or from the author’s website (I also try to patronize my friendly, neighborhood, independent bookseller whenever I can — usually for non-poetry books). But when I have to buy a whole bunch of books, I don’t want to pay separate shipping fees for each one. My go-to store for big batches of books is Powell’s, an independent bookseller in the Pacific Northwest. Not local, but regional, and independent.

This morning when I visited the Powell’s website and made my selections, the website grouped my books into three shipments, each with a $3.99 shipping charge. Ouch! I guiltily toggled over to amazon to see what their charges would be — what a deal: free shipping! Still, the guilt, the nagging guilt, the suffocating, nagging guilt! I went back over to Powell’s to see if I could find a way to weasel out of all the shipping charges, and what do you know but I found one. If you group your order into one shipment (slower) instead of several (faster), the shipping costs go way down. So, in the end, the Powell’s order ended up being less expensive than the same books would have cost on amazon, despite amazon’s free shipping.

I confess, I’m so glad to have saved myself from amazon guilt.

I also confess that sometimes I still buy things from amazon, especially around the holidays when I’m shipping things all over the country. And also when I’m trying like anything to avoid a trip to the shopping center in the College Town. And I still feel guilty about it.

Why am I writing this post? I guess because I just want to say that, sometimes, if you can wait and if you try hard, you can find away around the behemoth that is amazon.

And also because, I confess: I’m dying to know if other people have amazon guilt, too. Reader, tell me I’m not alone!

4 thoughts on “amazon guilt

  1. I almost always feel guilty buying on the internet, particularly on an ecological level, but I usually do it when there is not a local/independent alternative. However, when the local store is a corporate-owned chain store with higher prices, I’ll go amazon almost every time. My text books this semester mostly came from amazon, being that the university bookstore would not have them in time, charged more, and is generally intensely crowded. You either lose several hours of your time in line-ups and several dollars in parking, or $12-flat-rate shipping. It’s been interesting. I try to alleviate my amazon/internet guilt by selecting local purchases more carefully. I never shop at Walmart, for example, and try to avoid most of the big-box chains when I can.

    We’re lucky to have a quality semi-independent bookstore in town but the prices are sometimes out of reach. Other trouble is CAD/USD. Even when the Canadian dollar is close to par, the Canadian price is routinely $2-15 higher. Fabric is almost double US price so if I buy it online, I am particular about the whom from which I buy. I prefer the smaller online shops owned by someone whose blog I read.

    • CS, thanks for your comment. It’s interesting how the changing landscape of retail has made shopping into such a fraught territory. When most of the shops were mom & pop it was easy to buy local. Thanks for sharing how you navigate retail-land and how you manage internet guilt :).

  2. Because I sometimes work for the local bookstore, I know just how close the margin is for them. I don’t order from Amazon, unless it’s a used book. I always have the local bookstore order it (or Powell’s if it seems like the bookstore won’t be able to get it easily). It costs more but I feel like it’s investing in my community. However, I have lived in communities without good independent bookstores, and then I feel like sometimes Amazon is an option. AND, I did buy my 91 year old father a Kindle because it’s easier for him to get books and lift the dang thing.

    So, I totally understand the guilt and the trade-offs. The fact that you’re even thinking about this means you’re a good person! So there!

    • Hi, Erin, so glad to see you here! There is definitely a time and a place for Kindle’s, I think your 91-year-old father is one of them. Yes, to investing in one’s community! Actually, that’s another area of guilt for me — when I buy poetry books from the press or author (thus, supporting them), I feel guilty for not ordering it from my local bookstore :). Sheesh. I think I’ll try to let go of it a bit.

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