No Freakin' Amazon!

Chris's picture

This afternoon, I was chatting online with Elizabeth, and somewhere between making lewd, ungentlemanly suggestions and parsing CSS code, I made a policy suggestion about the site. Put succinctly, it was this:

NO Freakin' Amazon links!

No Amazon!

Yeah, that's kind of my smart-assed way of putting it, and I have no intention of policing the site and using the virtual rubber hose on people who link to book titles on Amazon, but there are some important issues to consider about where we buy books.

First of all, this site is by definition controversial. It caters to people of all stripes whose thoughts and ideas are by definition controversial because we embrace queers, perverts, feminists, pornographers, whores, strippers, and transgender folks. Some of the issues that we address here — like the politics of sex work or underage sex — are trigger issues that hit people's hot butttons. Just by trying to speak reasonably about those two examples, we open ourselves up to accusations that we're supporting pedophilia or the enslavement of women.

Books that take radical stances are not typically published by the people who are looking for the next Harry Potter mega-seller, nor are they sold by chain bookstores. It's true that now you can buy books by Midori, Annie Sprinkle, or Kate Borstein at Amazon or in Barnes & Noble, but they are there now because of the hard work of small, independent bookstores and publishers.

And we are losing them. Just as we're losing the public commons to corporate-owned strip malls, independent bookstores are disappearing, replaced by huge corporate chains that all carry the same books and CD's. People like us need the indepent bookstores. They're how the ideas get out there in the first place. The influence of Good Vibrations and Down There Press alone is immeasurable in shaping the last thirty years of dialogue about sex and gender. Without them, Susie Bright wouldn't be the household name she is; more to the point, all the women and men who followed her wouldn't be on Amazon or in Borders books now. They would be mute.

Amazon is a media behemoth that has a virtual monopoly over the online market. They are responsible to their shareholders, not communities of queers and kinksters, and because of that, we can't depend on them to be there for the next generation of writers and readers who break new ground in sex and gender.

Below are some alternative sources for information on book titles that you might want to use instead, whether you're just linking or seeking to buy yourself:

The two above are networks of used book stores across the country; you can look up books from the stock of thousands of indie bookstores and order from any of them.

  • Powell's
  • Good Vibrations
  • Green Apple - Probably my favorite place to be in all of San Francisco, and that's saying a lot.
  • Indigo Books - Not really a sex-and-gender bookstore, but they do have a lot on politics of all kinds, especially issues affecting people of color. Jenn, who runs it, was probably the first friend I made when I moved to Brooklyn in 2002.
  • The Strand - Legendarily huge bookstore in NYC's Greenwich Village
  • A Different Light - Iconic gay and lesbian bookstore.
  • Little Sister's (Canada) - Best known for fighting one of the most famous anti-censorship cases against the Canadian Customs which impounded their shipments of books as "obscene."