Since the news broke last week that Amazon was removing the sales ranks of works it perceived as erotic (see Tymber Dalton’s excellent post on it here), I’m seeing calls to boycott Amazon. After all, the big bad 1000 pound gorilla in the publishing world is throwing its weight around.
To see what this looks like, here’s the current ranking of my book Millionaire Cat Daddy, which is categorized as Fiction > Romance > Contemporary and Fiction > Romance > Erotica (though I’m not sure it’s hot enough for erotica, but wasn’t sure what to do for a second category. Romance > General seemed so meh.),
Now, Amazon will do what Amazon does, and I need to go back through and make some changes to that series, so honestly, I have so much going on right now that whatever. As they say, I have bigger fish to fry. But I wanted to address those who call for boycotting Amazon. Because you know what? I’ve heard it before and I know I’ll hear it again.
When you call to boycott Amazon, cancel your Prime membership, and quit shopping there, you’re revealing your privilege. Seriously. Yes, you are. I’m disabled. My mom is disabled and I’m her caretaker. Due to the fact that mom is housebound and we live in a very rural area, if it weren’t for Amazon, my mom couldn’t get many of her medical and personal care items. Not only are these items not carried in town (I’d have to travel at lest an hour one-day, and believe me, it’s always interesting trying to manage mom’s care with no help and needing to get the groceries and livestock feed every week.), but the Medicaid suppliers Missouri contracts with don’t carry many of these items in adult sizes. So that means we pay out of pocket for essential medical needs, turn in the receipts, and pray that the state reimburses us.
If it weren’t for Amazon, my mom would be in a nursing home because we wouldn’t be able to provide essential care items or we’d be even more impoverished because we’d have to buy them somewhere else at double or triple the cost. (Take for example an item for mom’s lift we use daily. It’s $50 on Amazon or $150 from the local medical supply place. Now where would you purchase it?)
Now, the common answer is “well I wasn’t talking about people like you”, when things like this are said. But yes, you were. When you call for EVERYONE to boycott Amazon you assume that the SNAP recipients who have a low cost Prime membership so they can access food through Prime Pantry (I love my Prime Pantry for being cheaper than the local walmart and giving me access to foods and spices I can’t get locally that are HEALTHY.) or the disabled individual who can have medical supplies delivered or the busy mom with small kids who can’t always take them all shopping can find what they need not just elsewhere, but also as cheaply and as easily as they could on Amazon.
Look, I’m not happy about the rank stripping. (Though like I said, my own health issues and my mom’s health issues come first in the bandwidth I have available to stress over things. And trust me, when I have to fight to get mom to the doctor because the transport company likes to randomly cancel transportation to save the state money, I’ve got important battles to fight.) I also don’t think cancelling Amazon/Prime is the way to go.
Rumor has it the RWA is looking into it, but frankly I don’t trust them to flush a toilet with a map and written instructions in three languages (It took them over 10 years to finally take action on Ellora’s Cave not paying authors. I’m trying not to be bitter.). Really our power as authors is in our public words, our public pressure, and in our ability to keep writing and selling books that we and our readers love.
Has Amazon made that harder? Yeah they do. But we can’t pretend that markets and industries don’t shift and we also need to learn to shift with them. We’re writers. Words are our tools. So let’s use them. After all, back in the day there wasn’t social media. Now there is, and companies have been known to change tactics due to pressure.
I’d also add that we need to make our voices heard to our elected representatives too. Sure, they probably won’t listen. But if we don’t tell them how their legislation affects us, and I am not naive enough to believe that they care, they won’t know. We may not have the power over them, but by making our voices heard, we can educate others, and as recently has been shown to us, social media has the power to move mountains.