5 Takeaways from Danny Caine’s “How to Resist Amazon and Why”

It’s time to stop supporting the colossal beast.

Independent bookstore operator Danny Caine wrote How to Resist Amazon and Why in response to the relentless reminders that Amazon was driving his business into the ground. Caine maintains that Amazon remains a wholly different beast in its dominance and power, and the fight against it is largely impossible to win. Half personal stories, half well-argued reasons to boycott the online superstore, this pocket-sized book is an essential read for all consumers.

I picked up this little orange book at my local bookstore. I bought it because I, like the majority of the population, –embarrassingly– am a frequent patron of Amazon. According to bigcommerce.com, “in the 25 years since its creation, Amazon has grown to become the top e-commerce platform in the country, and each month more than 197 million people around the world get on their devices and visit Amazon.com”.

Beyond the fact that no one likes being just another statistic, the guilt of shopping on Amazon has recently begun to creep into my subconscious with every purchase I make.

As someone who advocates so strongly against fast fashion and its detrimental effects on both people and planet, I had to ask myself: is Amazon really any better?

So, I bought this book, and let’s just say I will not be shopping on Amazon anytime in the near future. I now realize I was a hypocrite. By choosing to ignore the parallel practices Amazon exercises with those fast fashion companies I despise so greatly, I was just as bad as the rest of them.

In sharing these takeaways, I hope to call out the many ways shopping on Amazon perpetuates the mistreatment of its employees, the destruction of small businesses, the control of our information, the ceaselessness of mindless consumption, the threatening of communities, and the list goes on. Rather than dwelling on the myriad of ways I was contributing to the problem, I made a new list.

Here are the reasons I’m saying no to Amazon, and why you should too

The Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn, NY

Amazon Leads to the Devaluation of Products

One of the most destructive ways Amazon has warped the way consumers buy (very similarly to fast fashion companies) is the devaluation of products. Shoppers now expect outrageously low prices everywhere they shop due to the low prices that may be found on sites like Amazon. Of course, there are reasons for the low prices on these sites, and the principal ones are the realities of low quality, unethical labor, or shortcuts taken along the line of production. Ultimately, somewhere along the supply chain, costs were cut, and this is largely due to the low wages being paid to workers at the bottom of the chain.

Where this becomes a real issue is when customers expect the same type of low prices when visiting small and local businesses. These businesses suffer, as they cannot possibly compete with that of the pricing of a huge company like Amazon who owns every step of production to distribution. Customers’ minds begin to be warped with the expectation of quality for less, comparing prices on Amazon and ultimately choosing the “every store” to buy their products on.

People want more products for less money, and this consumerist mentality has also seeped into other segments of shopping. We know this story all too well from the explosion of fast fashion retailers, who promise trendy clothing at low prices. But at what cost? Amazon has ultimately applied the exploitative model to all consumer goods. The difference is, unlike Forever 21 or Boohoo, Amazon has virtually eliminated all competition thanks to their predatory pricing strategies – this means they sell their products and services below cost to kill off competitors and expand their market share. 

New Yorker Cartoon by Owen D. Palmer

Amazon is both a Platform and a Competitor

Something that many consumers do not realize is that Amazon is both a platform AND a competitor, and they use these dual roles to skew profit unfairly in their favor. They have been known to directly duplicate products being sold on their virtual shelves and sell that same product at a lower price than the original. This is textbook unfair play, as they have control that is unchecked by competitors. Amazon’s toxicity is uniquely destructive, as it has ownership/control over all steps of the supply chain, all the way up to marketing. With control over each they have found ways to slash prices along every step and generate their products at the lowest possible cost, whilst simultaneously being unregulated by other possible owners.

$15/Hour minimum wage for all employees is a lie. And other things Amazon Doesn’t want you to know

What doesn’t Amazon want you to know? Well, unsurprisingly, actually quite a lot. There are many private deals, and the company has been putting out small (and large) fires for years in attempt to stay in the good graces of its very trusting costumers. Despite all the scandals that make it to the headlines, the convenience Amazon offers has kept its image relatively intact, and the rather large issues bubbling under the surface have remained at bay. Here are a few things that the web behemoth has kept quiet.

Firstly, although it boasts $15/hour wage for all its employees, this is oftentimes not actually met. This is because Amazon hired third-party vans to make deliveries. Yes, that’s right: even though Amazon vans are equipped with its signature smile, as well as a matching Amazon uniform for its driver, these are often not technically Amazon employees. This means drivers are not being paid the promised $15 an hour, nor are they granted basic benefits like health insurance.

This also means Amazon shirks responsibility when drivers get in accidents from driving recklessly trying to meet the next to impossible time-per-package delivery expectations.

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There are countless unsafe and unregulated products on Amazon’s site.
Due to the multitudes of products they are pumping out daily, there is an inability to control all items on their virtual shelves. This has led to “4,152 items for sale on Amazon.com Inc.’s site that have been declared unsafe by federal agencies, are deceptively labeled or banned by federal regulators” (more than 2,000 of those items pose health risks for children), as reported by the Wall Street Journal in 2019.

Amazon also has used its influence to gain relationships with the US government. For example, Amazon has been cited as the “invisible backbone” of ICE’s immigration crackdown, providing the agency with the software to track immigrants, as well as acquiring a stake in a cargo holding company whose subsidiary conducts deportation flights for ICE.

Amazon has become a beast that is impossible to compete with

Because of all these super shady policies, Amazon has become a beast that is impossible to compete with in terms of sales, size, power, etc. The Goliath is both too big and too wealthy to punish, a company that may not be regulated or restricted. In a 2019 survey conducted by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, “three-quarters of independent retailers ranked Amazon’s dominance as a major threat to their survival, and only 11 percent of those selling on its site described their experience as successful”. It is a fight that is impossible to win for small businesses.

Additionally, what was once small business’ strength (i.e. personal recommendations and shopping assistance) has been threatened by the monumental force of social media and its algorithms, whether we like it or not. The explosion of influencers and endless product recommendations on popular apps such as Instagram, TikTok, and Youtube, not only encourages rapid consumption, but lessens the reliance/need for helpful employees and customer to worker interactions. For small businesses, the battle is only uphill from here.


What is possibly the greatest thing at stake is the loss of personal connections and community-oriented support. Shopping from small businesses and interacting with local shop owners is incredibly rewarding for both customer and employee. However, with the rise of big companies like Amazon there is a lessened need for local shopping and therefore, this human to human interaction is not taking place. In general, shopping has become mindless and more of an everyday occurrence than an activity that holds value and meaning for the consumer.

In the end, the only thing that is going to chip away at the fortress Amazon has built is people shopping small and shopping local.

Just think – supporting businesses near you will directly impact your community positively, while giving money to a huge corporation will only lead to more wealth for already extremely wealthy executives. Be smart…your dollar is your power, and no one can take that away from you.

These points do not even begin to reach the many sprawling consequences of supporting Amazon on its quest for monopolization, and we would all do well to educate ourselves a little more on the consequences of our clicks. Shopping this way hurts everyone –right down to the shopper. Plus what’s so bad about running an errand or two? Remain aware, shop local, do not give in to deceptive pricing and convenience. In the big picture, how convenient is it to have to rely on the likes of Jeff Bezos to meet your needs?

–Caroline Jenkins


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