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Amazon Alternatives

Let’s begin as Amazon did, with books. There’s no need to buy them from Amazon when you can use this nifty ethical bookseller search tool, which gives more ethical options that are cheaper* the majority of the time! 👇

Countries supported by the search tool:
🇦🇺🇦🇹🇧🇪🇧🇬🇨🇦🇭🇷🇩🇰🇫🇷🇩🇪🇮🇪🇮🇳🇮🇹🇱🇺🇳🇱🇳🇿🇳🇴🇵🇱🇵🇹🇿🇦🇪🇸🇸🇪🇨🇭🇬🇧🇺🇸

*Surveying 50 books at random that were bought via the Ethical Bookseller Search Tool, our results were the same price or cheaper than on Amazon 80% of the time excluding delivery costs. When factoring delivery in our results were actually the same price or cheaper 94% of the time! Even for people with Amazon Prime membership our results were the same price or cheaper 76% of the time, without even taking in to account the cost of an Amazon Prime subscription.


Why not Amazon?

Amazon are one of the least ethical companies on the planet.

Some reasons to take our custom away from them are:

  • They make billions of pounds in sales but pay workers poverty wages for horrendous working conditions.
  • TAX AVOIDANCE: They receive more in government subsidies than they pay in tax. ECRA calculated that in one year alone Amazon avoided paying half a billion pounds in UK tax.
  • They crush independent retailers that they claim to help.
  • They perpetuate global warming in a number of ways including by offering high tech services to help fossil fuel companies find more oil and gas.

There are plenty more reasons listed at the bottom of this page. Ethical Consumer’s Boycott Amazon page highlights why it would be wise to stop supporting Amazon. Meanwhile Wikipedia has a comprehensive list of criticisms of Amazon.

To make it easy to stop supporting Amazon here are a few suggestions of alternative places to buy online:


Alternatives to Various Amazon Services

Read my page dedicated to alternatives to other Amazon services here.

Includes alternative online shopping platforms plus Audible, Goodreads, Kindle alternatives and more.


The Amazon Alternatives for Books

Read my page dedicated to ethical book buying here. Often the alternatives are cheaper than Amazon, sometimes they’re the same sort of price, sometimes a little more, but they’re always worth using ahead of Amazon!


Don’t Get Duped

I’ve encountered many people who try to avoid Amazon but use ‘Abe Books’ and ‘The Book Depository’. Beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing! They are both Amazon companies.


Win Book Vouchers

I give away a £20 book voucher to one in every 30 people who submit to my bookseller satisfaction survey. To enter simply buy a book through my search tool and complete my survey (UK visitors only). Read more and submit to the survey here.


More reasons to boycott Amazon

Ethical Consumer list 10 reasons to boycott Amazon:

  1. Its flagrant tax avoidance.
  2. It has got a horrific reputation for workers’ rights.
  3. It threatens small independent businesses.
  4. It profits from oil and gas.
  5. It has failed to address its environmental impacts.
  6. It is repeatedly accused of racism.
  7. It creates a hostile environment for unions.
  8. It has faced questions over spying on politicians, trade unions, and consumers.  
  9. Stand in solidarity with other campaigners all over the world. 
  10. Amazon workers say abuse comes at a high price for workers in the cost of living crisis.

Read more about each on their site.


Alternatives to other unethical platforms

Click on the buttons to read more 👇


Your 26 Steps Checklist

25 thoughts on “Amazon Alternatives

  1. Hi, I live in Italy but a lot of my reading/film viewing is in English. Any thoughts on how I can avoid Amazon (and such like) while being outside the UK. I will explore other avenues closer to home. But Amazon is of course big here too. Thanks, John

  2. Any recommendations for ordering old fashioned music CDs?

    1. In the UK. there are few towns without a second hand record and cd shop. Discogs online is a good way to source harder to find music, too, and has options as to where to purchase from and often is populated by smaller sellers.
      Ian

  3. Thanks for this list 🙂 I think that Foyles has been owned by Waterstones for a couple of years now, but I don’t know anything about their business practices. How ethical are Waterstones?

      1. Hi Sam, this is so useful thank you. Looking forward to seeing your updated list as I realise a lot can change over a few years, especially like the ownership of companies, and I’m going to use your list to suggest to friends and family before the Christmas online shopping bonanza hits them…

  4. Thanks for putting this site together. Ironically, it came up on page 1 of my Google search for “alternatives to Amazon”.

    My partner and I love the convenience of Amazon, but we are exploring other options given the ethical concerns. One paradox we’re struggling to reconcile is that Amazon does support small businesses, and we would have never heard of some of the companies we’ve bought from without the Amazon storefront. One idea we’ve had is to use the Amazon search engine and then go and find the business’s website, but that still supports the company in minor ways.

    The draw of Amazon and other big companies that federate the search for products across multiple companies is a powerful one. Another is the product reviews. I have to admit that both are key factors that have kept me as a Prime member for years.

    In any case, sites like yours help those of us looking to challenge those assumptions. Cheers.

    1. Hi Sapo,

      That’s how they get us, the convenience. This is why we’re developing the ethical bookseller search tool. It’s a start – should make finding books a lot easier: Rather than trawling through all of the ethical booksellers, we are trying to make it easy to search them all in one go (and when you do it’s amazing how often you find that the book you’re searching is actually CHEAPER from an ethical bookseller than Amazon).

      Hopefully, once the book search tool is honed, we can move in to other areas as well.

      Thank you for the feedback – it’s really helpful to know the reasons that people such as yourself continue to use Amazon. This knowledge helps us all find solutions (although there will be a tipping point before then where Amazon change their practices to keep their userbase, which in itself will be a good thing).

      Cheers,
      Sam

  5. I second Sapo’s reasoning. The main reason I continue to use Amazon is because I live in a village without any locals towns. I’d love to live in an adorable little town with cute little independent shops or charity shops but sadly I do not. I’d have to ask for a lift to get to another town to buy what I need and I often fail to find what I need in stores. Additionally, I’m not convinced the retail stores available to me are ethical, which makes me wonder why I would go to that effort instead of ordering what I need online to be delivered the next morning. I know that doesn’t make it right, which is precisely why I’m here. I just had a look at my purchase history on Amazon and I can say that *most* of what we’ve purchased over the last year is fairly difficult to find in town but I do feel guilty about the things which could have been purchased in town. I also use Amazon to order niche pet food that it isn’t availabale from local pet shops. I also have to factor in that a lot of ethical or independent online stores have high delivery fees, which makes it financially difficult for me if I need to order multiple products from different stores, where as Amazon serves me everything on a single plate and delivers it for free the next day. It’s such a shame that Amazon is an unethical giant. I need to find a solution.

  6. Hi, this is a great site, thanks for putting it together. I’ve already changed from Amazon to Hive for all my books. Having issues with some other products though – as Sapo confirms above, I do use Amazon quite often to search for products, then I either copy & paste the description into Ecosia search engine or try to find the seller elsewhere.

    One issue I have, which I find strange and you may be interest in – I ordered a product from OnBuy.com yesterday, which arrived this morning. However, it came packaged in an Amazon box and Amazon invoice! I’ve checked my Amazon account and I definitely didn’t buy the product from there by mistake!

    1. Hi Steve,

      Thanks for the kind words and it’s great you’re now using Hive over Amazon. Do you use my search tool (above) and find the Hive are usually the cheapest? The newly launched Bookshop is also great for supporting local bookshops and they appear in the search results along with Hive and others.

      I am keeping an eye on OnBuy as mentioned in the listing above – little known as yet. Any feedback from anyone is always appreciated. I too have had the issue before having bought something elsewhere and it arriving with Amazon packaging. I will contact OnBuy directly and ask them about this. Given that they style themselves as Amazon Alternatives surely Amazon should not be selling through them. Will write an update here when I get a response.

      Sam

  7. Hi Sam

    I didn’t notice your search tool – I’ll use it next time I’m looking. I’d checked a couple that you had recommended and Hive had more of what I was looking for and at better price. Plus I like their website!

    I was going to hold back until you’d done more research but thought I’d check OnBuy out as it wasn’t a costly product I was looking for so didn’t think it would do much harm if they ended up not too promising. Thought you’d find the information useful as part of your research.

    Keep up the good work!

    Steve

  8. Cheers Steve. I’ve been in touch with On Buy and have sent you an email to investigate further…

  9. Helping independent bookshops: Bookshop.org vs Hive

    In a Guardian article about Bookshop, it states that Bookshop “allows independent bookshops to create their own virtual shopfront on the site, with the stores receiving the full profit margin – 30% of the cover price – from each sale”.

    I did a trial run with a Booker Prize-shortlisted book, and it came up with a price of £9.29 (RRP £9.99) with the message “You’ll raise £1.00 for local bookshops!” The same price and message came up when I searched for a local independent bookshop on the site.

    Hive’s website, on the other hand, states that “After you’ve bought something from us, you choose a bookshop and we give them a percentage of your money.” The percentage is unspecified, and given that Hive’s price for the same book (£7.59) was a lot cheaper than Bookshop’s, the implication is that they will give a lot less than £1 to the bookshop – probably a few pennies at most.

    Of course, this is only one book, but the choice would appear to be between paying nearly full price for books via Bookshop (but the independent bookshop benefiting by the full profit margin) and paying a significantly reduced price via Hive, but the bookshop receiving an unspecified and almost certainly significantly lower amount.

    To add a final complication, it may be that bookshops have to pay a subscription to be listed by Bookshop (they have to make money somehow!). If this bothers you, you can always order direct from an independent bookshop that also offers an online service, although you may find you have to pay extra for post and packing (this wasn’t the case with one independent bookshop I checked). Anything but the Bezos behemoth!

  10. PS A clarification and a complication.

    First the clarification. I don’t know whether bookshops do have to pay a subscription to be listed by Bookshop – I was only suggesting this as a possible explanation for how they might be able to make some money themselves while passing on the full profit margin to bookshops and offering both free postage and a small discount on the cover price of books.

    Now the complication. You may have noticed that in the case of the £9.99 RRP book I used for the trial, Bookshop’s message “You’ll raise £1.00 for local bookshops!” does NOT equate to “the full profit margin – 30% of the cover price” mentioned in the Guardian article, which would be £3.00.

    BUT that trial was carried out *without* selecting a bookshop, and when I selected a bookshop first, the message “You’ll raise £3.00 for local bookshops!” came up!

    I don’t know whether the £1.00 message is a glitch or (more likely) intentional – perhaps it’s a way for Bookshop to make some money by keeping £2 of the £3 if you don’t specify a bookshop (but still giving £1 to bookshops – presumably as a contribution to a fund shared between all the shops they’ve signed up). Clearly, though, if you want an independent bookshop to get the most benefit, you should choose one before you place your first order (once you’ve selected one, it seems to get the full amount for each subsequent order).

  11. Hi, just wondering if you know anywhere to buy virtual books? A family member is just raising Amazon vouchers for their Kindle and it’s so difficult, really keeps you tied in!!

    Thanks

    1. Hi Heather. Many of the book sellers I have listed above sell virtual books. Use the search tool above and the select the filters to select only eBooks for the book you’re searching and you’ll see the results.

  12. I have used hive for their ebooks but find the fact you have to use Adobe digital elements to read them and it really isn’t a pleasant experience.

    Anyone got any work arounds a for this ?

  13. Hi there,

    I’d recommend having a look at Partage.com as well! I just got a few beauty products and they only have sustainable boutiques in there!

  14. Have you come across libro.fm – their audiobook selection is great – as are their social goals! And they give free ARCs to educators and librarians. Perhaps you could include them in your USA list.

    1. H Nadine. I have indeed and have already got Libro.fm included in my US and Canada sections above.

  15. Excellent site but, other than a link to Unbound (who I have emailed), there is no information here for authors.
    In my own case, I am looking for a bookstore or online seller in the UK for my remaining stock of my autobigraphy which I have withdrawn from sale in Hong Kong where I live.
    Can you assist please?

    1. Hi Guy,
      Unbound are the best I’ve found for authors so far – not so easy to find alternative publishers for authors as it is to find alternative retailers for buyers. If you find anything please do let me know.
      Cheers,
      Sam

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