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Portland, Oregon's iconic independent bookstore, Powell's Books, announced yesterday that it no longer will sell books via Amazon's third-party Marketplace.

CEO Emily Powell made the announcement on Independent Bookstore Day.

In an email to customers, she wrote:

"Amongst us book lovers, there’s almost a special code when you meet another reader — we talk about our favorite bookstores. This year’s celebration of Independent Bookstore Day feels especially weighty, as a result, as so many independent booksellers around the country fight for their survival and wonder what their future may hold. No one goes into the book business expecting an easy path, and each year typically brings its share of surprises and challenges. This year, of course, is like none other in memory. We are all climbing the mountain ahead of us, but the outcome is uncertain.

"Powell’s, we have decided to mark this year’s Independent Bookstore Day by announcing that we will no longer sell our books on Amazon’s marketplace. For too long, we have watched the detrimental impact of Amazon’s business on our communities and the independent bookselling world. We understand that in many communities, Amazon - and big box retail chains - have become the only option. And yet when it comes to our local community and the community of independent bookstores around the U.S., we must take a stand. The vitality of our neighbors and neighborhoods depends on the ability of local businesses to thrive. We will not participate in undermining that vitality."

KC's View:

I admire this.  I'm not entirely persuaded that it is the best business move, especially at a time when Powell's, like so many businesses, has been hurt badly by pandemic-induced shutdowns.  But it is a statement of principle, and as someone once said, principles are only principles when they cost you something.

I think it is important not to feather the competition's nest.

The email reminded me of one of my younger sisters, Amy.  (I'm the oldest of seven.)  She works in an elementary school as a library media specialist/teacher librarian, but she's a devotee of independent bookstores, would love to own one someday, and once made it her goal to visit 50 independent bookstores around the US in a single year - and has continued the quest to the point where she has visited far more than that.

I actually felt guilty the other day - it was Amy's birthday, I wanted to send her a book (Michael Lewis's "The Fifth Risk"), but the only way I could get it to her on time was to order it via Amazon Prime.  I hope she forgives me … while I am not as dedicated an indie bookshop shopper as she is, I am a huge fan of Powell's and often visit independent mystery bookstores when traveling around the country.