Dear Mr. President,
On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association and myself, I want to express our confusion and disappointment at your decision to speak about job creation at an Amazon warehouse in Tennessee. While we applaud your intent to shift the focus in Washington from deficit reduction to increasing manufacturing and high wage job creation, delivering this message at an Amazon warehouse is a peculiar choice.
Although Amazon has promised to add 5000-7000 jobs in the next few years, these warehouse jobs barely pay minimum wage, and usually do not include health care, which is crucial to be able to lift families out of poverty, and would not even come close to elevating them to middle class. Worst of all, Amazon is a company that based their business model on tax avoidance, and spent the last ten years using predatory pricing to enable them to eliminate competition from locally owned stores. They have used their size and diversification to sell books below cost, something that bookstores can’t do and stay in business. And frankly, your Justice Department’s recent decision to grant Amazon a monopoly in ebooks has only strengthened their position.
Your administration’s championing of Main Street over Wall Street has been important to local communities around the country, and that is why the decision to shine a light on Amazon as a job creator is disingenuous.
Your high profile personal support of locally owned bookstores always warms booksellers’ hearts. But your appearance at the Amazon facility in Chattanooga shows us that we on Main Street aren’t as important to your plan as a company that flouts the law and creates low-wage and low-benefits jobs.
Please consider the message you are sending with this appearance, and re-think any future events. Main Street is counting on you.
Deborah Leonard, Executive Director, Great Lakes Independent
Robin Allen, Forever Books, St. Joseph, Michigan
Jessilynn Norcross, McLean & Eakin Booksellers, Petoskey, Michigan
Tom Lowry, Lowry’s Books, Three Rivers, Michigan
Kelly Estep, Carmichael’s Bookstores, Louisville, Kentucky
Terry Whittaker, Viewpoint Books, Columbus, Indiana
Suzanne DeGaetano, Mac’s Backs on Coventry, Cleveland Heights, OH