It turns out that Richard Stallman is on my department's mailing list, and each time someone mentions Amazon in some email (e.g. Amazon giftcards for miscellaneous experiments, Amazon feature in Ubuntu, etc.) he will adamantly recall a couple of reasons why we should not to buy from Amazon: https://stallman.org/amazon.html
Reasons not to buy from Amazon
If you want to order a book (or something else), don't buy it from
Amazon. Amazon harms its customers, as well as workers, the national
treasury, and many others that it affects.
If you want to order a book, order it directly from the publisher or
through a local book store. If you want to use a URL to refer to a
book, please don't use an Amazon page.
Here's a good (though long) overview of why Amazon's overall activity
is harmful to society overall.
Here are specific reasons — plenty of them.
Restricting and Shafting Customers
Amazon distributes ebooks in a way that strips users of many freedoms
(PDF or html).
Amazon's on-line music "sales" have some of the same problems as the
ebooks: users are required to identify themselves and sign a contract
that denies them the freedoms they would have with a CD.
The Amazon Swindle has a back door that can erase books. We found out
about this when Amazon remotely erased thousands of copies of 1984. In
response to criticism, Amazon promised it would never do this again
unless ordered to by the state, which I find not very comforting.
Amazon did not keep that promise. In 2012 it wiped a user's Kindle and
deleted her account, then offered her kafkaesque "explanations".
Amazon's book recommendations are not based honestly on algorithms
that try to figure out what users might like. Publishers .
Amazon rents textbooks to students with a requirement not to take them
across state lines.
Amazon "sold" someone Disney Christmas videos (via remote access, not
a local copy); subsequently Amazon, at Disney's command, cut off
access for Christmas. This demonstrates why we should not trust remote
hosting for copies of published works. Insist on having your own copy
which is yours.
Amazon's service, that offers you an MP3 for CDs you bought there,
respects your rights less than ripping the CDs yourself.
Amazon's complex financial arrangements bypass UK credit card consumer
Amazon cut off service to Wikileaks, claiming that whistleblowing
violates its terms of service. It had no need to go to court to prove
this, because if you rent a server from Amazon, you have no rights.
Amazon censored an ebook that exposed how ebook bestseller lists can
be manipulated (and therefore are meaningless).
Exploiting workers mercilessly
Amazon's shipping in the US is done in a sweatshop. More info,
including paramedics standing by for workers who pass out from the
Workers in an Amazon warehouse and shipping center walk all day under
the orders of a computer, and are forbidden even to speak to each
A stress expert, looking at an undercover report about an Amazon
warehouse, says these conditions make physical and mental illness more
Shafting others in the publishing world
Amazon squeezes small publishers. For instance, Amazon cut off Swindle
sales for an independent book distributor in order to press for bigger
discounts. (The article ends by promoting ebooks for another platform,
the Shnook from Barnes and Noble. While that company is not as nasty
to small publishers, its ebooks do violate your freedom in most of the
Amazon doesn't just compete with independent book stores, it
arrogantly seeks to destroy them. Independent book stores urge people
not to buy from Amazon.
Amazon appears to treat self-published authors well, but it can
unilaterally cut the price of their books. And when it does, the
authors are the ones who lose.
Amazon is bad for books and writing.
Amazon is demonstrating its dangerous power by punishing one publisher
with all sorts of unofficial discouragements to buy.
We should not allow any bookstore to be as big as Amazon.
Amazon's hardball tactics against a publisher show its dangerous
Not that Hachette deserves any sympathy. The point is that we need to
break Amazon's power.
At least 10% of Amazon's success is due to avoiding the taxes that
physical book stores pay.
Amazon's tax avoidance means it sucks money out of your country's
Amazon charges publishers for 20% sales tax in the UK even though the
tax it pays is 3%.
UK independent bookstores condemn Amazon for not paying taxes as they
Amazon was a member of ALEC. ALEC is the right-wing lobbying group
that promotes voter-suppression laws and "shoot first" laws, as well
as attacks against wages and working conditions in the US.
Amazon quit ALEC after public pressure in May 2012, but I am sure it
still supports the same nasty policies and is waiting for a new tool
to achieve them.
Copyright (c) 2011-2014 Richard Stallman Verbatim copying and
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