I don’t usually read a Sunday paper, but yesterday a friend who was here for the week-end bought The Observer. There was a superb article by journalist Carole Cadwalladr who spent a week working undercover for Amazon at their Swansea warehouse. It made sobering reading. Long hours, poor pay, employment rights avoided by hiring through agencies, workers walking up to fifteen hours per shift. BBC Panorama recently showed a programme filmed undercover, which showed the same thing. What century are we living in? To add insult to injury The Observer claims that Amazon paid £2.4 million in corporate tax in 2012 and got back £2.5 million in grants.
There’s no two ways about, I have got to start buying less from Amazon.It’s really mostly books. I don’t really like buying electronic goods from them. My laptop came from John Lewis (where I was able to talk to a nice young man about which model was most suited to my needs) and my printer came from Printerland.
As for books, well, there are always bookshops (though not for much long if Amazon have their way). Buying on-line is harder – at least, not really much harder, but more expensive. To test this out, I looked up the recent winner of the CWA gold dagger, Dead Lions by Mick Heron, on Amazon where it costs £12.72 for a hardback and on Abebooks where it was £13.83, postage included for both. That’s not actually a huge difference. The winner of the Creasey dagger for the best first novel, Derek.B. Miller’s Norwegian by Night, was £3.85 on Amazon and £5.48 on Abebooks (in fact I’d already bought that at Waterstones). Really should one be paying much less than a fiver for a new book, something that it has probably taken someone at least a year to write?
My new year’s resolution will be to buy fewer books from Amazon and more from other sources. Actual books, that is, ebooks are another, more difficult matter, but at least no-one has to pack them up and post them.