General ramblings

A Life Without Amazon…?

Is that even possible?
Well, obviously it is.
But it is a little scary how quickly Amazon has become our ‘go-to’, for not just books, but for pretty much everything.
They are often the cheapest option, the service is quick, and they have most things you might want.
Happy Days.

Well, no, not really.
I am sure you are all more than aware of the stories of alleged tax avoidance, and there was a recent Panorama programme that exposed their less than ideal working conditions for their employees. AND I read a great piece in the Guardian online the other day about a David and Goliath style fight the owners of Lush have been having with Amazon, that they have won.
In the past, I always used Amazon. I was kind of aware they were a ‘big corporation’, and that they hadn’t been that great about paying their taxes, but it didn’t concern me enough to make a stand and not use them. Partly out of laziness, and partly out of tightness, if I’m being honest. During My Make Do and Mend Year, I obviously used them less, but what I did use, on the site, was the Amazon Marketplace, where people can sell secondhand books.

And then I read a blog post by Rob Hopkins on the Transition Network site, about the day he closed his Amazon account, and it really bought it home to me, and for the first time, it occurred to me, that maybe, there could be a Life Without Amazon.
I am not anti-big business. I am more, pro-small business. Businesses that pay their taxes, and treat their employees as we would all wish to be treated. And don’t ride rough shod over other, smaller business, just because they are the biggest.
So, earlier on this month, when hubby announced there were a couple of books he wanted for his birthday, I resisted my initial urge to do the easy, cheapest thing, and turn straight to Amazon, and I did a little investigation first.
And to my delight, I found some wonderful sites! Not hugely more expensive than Amazon, and in fact, in one case, actually cheaper!

I used Hive, to get a copy of The Hairy Biker Curry Book, (new, but on behalf of my mother in law, so I am excused!).
This is a great site, that allows you to nominate your local bookshop to receive a percentage of the income from the book, and also allows you to pick up from there too, if you want to avoid P+P (although it is free on orders over £15).

And I used World of Books to get a secondhand copy of Cooking on a Shoestring (fabulous book-I love it!). There is free UK delivery, and they were actually cheaper than the secondhand ones on Amazon.

So, I can conclude, that there can indeed be A Life Without Amazon. From Rob’s post, it looks like it is quite hard work to actually cancel your account-there is no simple cancel, or unsubscribe button. But I think I am going to take the plunge.

I am sure that with a bit more research, I will discover many other fabulous sites, or even, heaven forbid, actual shops (!) out there. If anyone has any recommendations, please do let me know, and I will compile a list, for any other hardy souls who care to join me in my Amazon Free Life!

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  • Reply Amazon Alternatives | My Make Do and Mend Year February 23, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    […] I posted a couple of weeks ago about the possibility of a Life Without Amazon. […]

  • Reply Rita February 19, 2014 at 6:33 pm

    I buy from Awesome books. Books in the bargain bin are £2.49 or £2.59, the quality is good, prompt dispatch and free P&P.

    • Reply Jen February 19, 2014 at 8:15 pm

      Great, thanks Rita-I will check them out 🙂

  • Reply Aduki Bean Curry, 19p, The Hive & Approved FoodsThrifty Lesley – 1 person, 1 day, £1 February 18, 2014 at 6:56 pm

    […] talk about the Hive. Have you heard of it, or tried it? There were a couple of books I wanted and Jen Gale had blogged about buying from the Hive instead of Amazon, which I must admit is my first port of […]

  • Reply KnitNell February 18, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    Thanks for that Post Jen – very interesting as are all the comments.

    • Reply Jen February 18, 2014 at 10:06 pm

      No problem-glad it is helpful!

  • Reply Katy February 17, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    Definitely going to check out World of Books – thanks! I know what you mean about Amazon… I used to have Prime and it was so handy when I was in the last stages of pregnancy and dealing with a newborn, but yet there is so much wrong with what they are doing to independents, pushing prices down like supermarkets, and that’s not even starting to talk about the whole corporate tax issue…

    • Reply Jen February 17, 2014 at 11:36 pm

      I was really pleased with World of Books-good service, and cheaper through their own site than they were on Amazon 🙂

  • Reply Mama Bec (@becb1984) February 17, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    Great post! I am boycotting Amazon currently, although for different reasons (you can read more about those reasons here: and started the boycott just before Christmas. I have to say it made Christmas shopping much harder but I actually thought more about what I bought people as a result! I found was very good for CDs and DVDs, very prompt delivery and not too much more expensive. I love the idea of Hive but haven’t used it yet – I think I will do so in the future though.

    • Reply Jen February 17, 2014 at 2:57 pm

      Crikey-I had no idea about the book-that sounds horrific. One more reason to wave them goodbye with a light heart.

  • Reply caterinacate February 17, 2014 at 9:37 am

    Dear Jen,

    Thank you for this informative and inspiring post. This amazon thing is a bit like the Hundredth Monkey effect! I started my quiet, but half-hearted amazon boycott after seeing the Panorama programme, but chickened out of actually closing the account. Your post now, and reading Rob’s post too from your link, persuaded me to go the full hog and I have now closed my account completely and (hopefully) for good. Thank you for inspiring me to take a stand.

    • Reply Jen February 17, 2014 at 2:52 pm

      Hurray! Great to hear Catrina 🙂

  • Reply Verity February 17, 2014 at 7:28 am

    I’ve never joined the Amazon craze so can honestly say that it hasn’t bothered me one bit! I generally use independent second hand book stores, which often means a 6-12 month wait before I can access one, but the waiting is half the reward! Either that or I borrow from the local library. You really can have a happy, engaged and fulfilling life without Amazon:)

    • Reply Jen February 17, 2014 at 2:52 pm

      I am sure I can Verity. Might need to work some more on my patience..!

  • Reply Chris February 16, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    I won a Kindle last year so I have an Amazon account, but I have not bought a book or anything else from them. I use the Free booksifter every morning to find the new free books for that day, download any I fancy, I have not run out of reading yet. Any well known authors books I want to read I borrow from the library. Anything else I could buy on Amazon I use there search engine find a private seller selling what I want and contact them direct. I won’t be closing my account but they won’t make money from me.

    • Reply Jen February 17, 2014 at 2:51 pm

      My understanding is that if you close your account, you can’t then access any e-books you have bought from them! Which seems crazy.

  • Reply Sue February 16, 2014 at 1:42 pm

    You are so right about amazon shopping, we get sucked into the cheap prices and free delivery! I did Xmas shopping on it, and feel so guilty, all because for the first time ever I wasn’t organised and left everything too late! I have just shopped for 5 birthdays and never touched the computer, used local shops and a bit of charity shop goodies for all, and boy do I feel better about myself! Keep us all on the right track Jen, you are doing a grand job! Sue x

    • Reply Jen February 17, 2014 at 2:50 pm

      Well done for getting back to shopping local Sue!

  • Reply beautytherapystudent February 16, 2014 at 10:58 am

    I love that you caught onto the Lush vs Amazon story in a positive way, I have seen some things in the press using it to bash Lush which utterly pickled me. Good luck trying to live Amazon free xx

    • Reply Jen February 17, 2014 at 2:49 pm


  • Reply mymoneysavingjourney February 16, 2014 at 8:29 am

    Great post. Interesting to learn about world if books. Will definitely be giving this one a go.

    The ‘cooking on a shoestring’ book you recommend. Is it the Woman’s Weekly one?


  • Reply treadingmyownpath February 16, 2014 at 6:53 am

    I try really hard not to use amazon now. It’s difficult when things are obviously cheaper but I always remember that I’m voting for the future I want to see when I spend my money. I don’t want to be complaining that amazon has the monopoly on everything – so I make sure I support the small businesses out there to help ensure that doesn’t happen : )

    • Reply Jen February 16, 2014 at 10:50 am

      I agree with you, it is hard when you know that they are probably the cheapest. But I just have to keep reminding myself, it’s not all about the money-there are lots of more important things, and I want to ensure that my actions follow my beliefs. So I can’t really use Amazon in all good conscience.

      • Reply treadingmyownpath February 16, 2014 at 11:48 am

        Living in Australia has certainly helped me ; ) (They don’t have it here and it’s expensive to post from UK) But it’s still almost a reflex when I’m looking for something to check on Amazon just to see the price. I don’t want that kind of reflex, I don’t want to waste my time!

        • Reply Jen February 17, 2014 at 2:50 pm

          I assumed they were global and everywhere! I wonder if they just trade in a different name over there?

          • treadingmyownpath February 18, 2014 at 12:51 am

            I think they may be in the process of setting up but right now if people want to shop on Amazon they can choose between US and UK – same for kindles etc. Isn’t it reassuring to know that actually they aren’t everywhere and there are small corners of the globe where they haven’t reached yet?!

          • Jen February 18, 2014 at 10:06 pm

            It is very reassuring!

  • Reply valhalla February 15, 2014 at 11:28 pm

    We have that here in the Netherlands with From pregnancytest to studybook, from wineglasses to hairdye…. Their service is great but because of them a lot of shops will disappear. I started buying there when they were still very small, but now they are taken over by Ahold, which is like… everything I do NOT stand for…

    So I deceided not to buy there again…. I go to the library for books, to the thriftshop or my mom, to ebay… I can do without them 🙂

    • Reply Jen February 16, 2014 at 10:49 am

      Well done for standing by your principles 🙂

  • Reply angalmond February 15, 2014 at 6:26 pm

    I use Abebooks as a great resource for 2nd hand books [especial old out of print ones] They help promote small booksellers too and like Kiwijo, I find The Book People useful for newer stuff I might want to give as gifts
    blessings x

    • Reply Jen February 16, 2014 at 10:49 am


  • Reply contessafarrugia February 15, 2014 at 6:18 pm

    Have you tried Green Metropolis.

    Looks like a great site for keeping books circulating and bypasses Amazon.

    • Reply Jen February 16, 2014 at 10:48 am

      Will have a look-thankyou 🙂

  • Reply Em February 15, 2014 at 5:21 pm

    Have you tried It’s a site where you list books you are happy to send (either to your own country or around the world) and when you have points (which you gain by listing and sending) you can then ask for books from others.

    • Reply Jen February 16, 2014 at 10:48 am

      Bookmooch-what an awesome name! I will check it out, thankyou 🙂

  • Reply Jo aka Kiwijo February 15, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    Amazon is a last resort for us. I use to use, but havent used them since they moved their operation from the Channel isles.
    The bestest by far place I use for books is The Book People, theres not much I cant get on there and what I cant get there I use good old eBay.
    You can live without Amazon, honest. :o) x

    • Reply Jen February 16, 2014 at 10:48 am

      Great-thanks Jo!

      • Reply Katy February 17, 2014 at 4:09 pm

        Book People are very good value (I do wonder *how* their books are so cheap though?!)

        • Reply Jen February 17, 2014 at 11:36 pm

          I have used them in the past-as you say, not sure quite how they are so cheap?

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