Indie booksellers feeling ‘Boxed Out’ by Amazon respond with campaign targeting tech giant

Solid State Books in Washington, D.C., is decorated in slogans for a Boxed Out campaign to support independent booksellers. (American Booksellers Association Photo)

Independent bookstores across the country put out the unwelcome mat for Amazon and the tech giant’s Prime Day shopping extravaganza this week, trying to call attention to the dire straits small businesses are facing during the pandemic.

The American Booksellers Association launched a “Boxed Out” campaign with creative slogans and installations in bookstore windows and posts on social media.

“People may not realize the cost and consequences of ‘convenience’ shopping until it’s too late,” Allison Hill, CEO of ABA, said in a news release. “More than one indie bookstore a week has closed since the COVID-19 crisis began.”

Hill added that Prime Day was forecast to generate $10 billion in revenue for Amazon.

The American Booksellers Association is a national nonprofit trade organization that works to help independently owned bookstores grow and succeed.

Playing off the ubiquitous nature of Amazon’s cardboard packaging, brown coverings were created to “overtake” participating storefronts with slogans such as “Bookstores vs. Billionaires” and “Books curated by real people not a creepy algorithm.” Fake cardboard books were displayed with titles such as “To Kill A Locally Owned Bookstore.”

(American Booksellers Association Images)

The 48-hour Prime Day, which normally falls in July, was pushed back this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Outside groups analyzing data on Tuesday reported that the event was off to an impressive start. Amazon’s U.S. revenue for the first seven hours of the sale on Tuesday were reportedly up 19% over the same period during Prime Day 2019.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg was reporting that some workers were complaining that the rush to fill Prime Day orders was breaking protocols put in place to ensure warehouse worker safety during the pandemic. Employees at a Staten Island facility said the company has been hassling employees about productivity and warning that slowness could lead to termination.

Check out some of the tweets from bookstores participating in the #BoxedOut movement: