Internet Nerd Compendium

Internet Nerd Compendium

internet // philosophy // politics // sociology

Ethical alternatives to Amazon

5 ways to read books that don’t put billionaires in space or force workers to pee in bottles.

When Jeffrey Bezos thanked Amazon workers and customers for putting him in space, people were disgusted. Here’s the thing – he’s absolutely right. Every time we buy something on Amazon, watch something on Prime or listen to something on Audible, we’re giving Jeffrey money for him to burn on pretending to be an astronaut.

It’s not just fuelling the insane hording of wealth, or the destruction of our planet, Amazon harms the workers it exploits. A handful of stories about conditions for Amazon workers:

So what can we do? Well, I’ve written a blog previously about changes you can make to clean up your tech, which includes some Amazon replacement suggestions. But now I want to focus on one of my favourite topics: books.

1. Buy second-hand

There are few pleasures more pure than browsing around thrift or charity shops for books. Oxfam have some dedicated bookshops which are the absolute dream. Not only is buying second-hand books a great way to give money to charity via your book-addiction, it’s also more eco as no new trees have been used to buy the book. And you sometimes run into books you’d never think of buying, or books with little inscriptions in.

Oxfam books even have an online store here.

Get browsing!

2. Join your local library

Libraries are amazing. The Horrible Librarian recently wrote a great Twitter thread on the power of libraries in supporting trans and NB authors, while at the same time ensuring that libraries have LGBTQ+ stories available for kids and teens. You can also use your local library to access eBooks and audio books FOR FREE – and sometimes access movies too.

Support your community and starve Amazon by signing up for your local library today.

Already signed up? Check out OverDrive (or the app version called ‘Libby‘) or BorrowBox to listen to audio books with your library!

3. Audio books

Audible have really tried to sew up the market on audio books, but there are alternatives! As well as the option to listen to free audio books with your library (listed above) there’s also:

  • Kobo – a fine purveyor of audio and eBooks
  • The Open Library – run by the Internet Archive
  • LibriVox – a free online collection of audio books, read and recorded by volunteers
  • Loyal Books – another awesome free collection of audio and eBooks
  • Open Culture – another free collection – this one has a classics focus
  • Storynory – this kids friendly site focuses on fairy stories
  • Lit2go – also packed with free classic audio books

Honourable mention: Phoebe Reads a Mystery is a podcast by the host of Criminal. She reads through classic mystery and crime novels chapter by chapter and has a beautiful, relaxing voice. I highly recommend.

4. Shop online ethically

There are some great online alternatives for Amazon now, and I’m gonna drop some below:

Free, little library

Photo by John Callow on Unsplash

  • – support your local bookshop from the comfort of the your own laptop (UK only)
  • – for every book bought another is donated to someone in need (several countries)
  • – focused on second-hand books, this company is aiming at being carbon neutral, work with charities and take care of their employees (several countries and still expanding).

5. Free little libraries

Maybe you’ve seen them when you’ve been walking around your local town or city – tiny, free libraries that work on a take-one-leave-one basis. Here’s more about the project.

Donate to your local free little library.


Got any more good alternatives to shopping for books with Amazon? Put them in the comments below. And remember: there’s no ethical consumption under capitalism.

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