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Amazon Alternatives

Emma Nichols

Staff Writer

Emma Nichols is a career bookseller. Though she expected to grow up to be a librarian, or a witch, she's quite happy with how things are working out. Officially, she specializes in children's books and manages their book fairs; unofficially, she is passionate about short stories and spreadsheets. When not evangelizing her favorite books to unsuspecting customers, she can be heard discussing books and bookselling on her podcast Drunk Booksellers. Her other hobbies include organizing her books, taking pictures of her cat, and binge-re-watching her favorite TV shows. Blog: The Bibliot Twitter: @thebibliot

While we at the Riot take some time off to rest and catch up on our reading, we’re re-running some of our favorite posts from the last several months. Enjoy our highlight reel, and we’ll be back with new stuff on Monday, January 11th.

This post originally ran November 20, 2015.

Alright, let’s get a few things out of the way. I’m not here to convince you that Amazon is a bad company that takes advantage of its employees, avoids paying taxes, and has an unhealthy amount of power when it comes to book distribution/availability, and thus book culture overall. There are plenty of articles about Amazon being the big bad already.

As an indie bookseller I have a lot of privilege when it comes to buying books; and I hear and understand when people say Amazon is easier and cheaper. Now, I don’t know that I can provide you with cheaper alternatives—Amazon has the market cornered on that—but below you’ll find Amazon alternatives that everyone can take part it, whether or not you have a local indie.

Physical Books


Amazon got its start selling books and it now controls much of the e-market. But there’s always Powell’s for new and used (they ship everywhere), alibris for a collection of used booksellers, and, of course, your local indie or any indie (most of us ship).


Because sometimes they’re just easier!


Plenty of publishers sell ebooks directly from their website (HarperCollins, Penguin Random House, and Simon & Schuster to name a few). Then there are awesome digital bookstores like 0s & 1s which sells great indie books and lit mags and gives 100% of the profits to the publisher. And of course, indies sell e-books too.

Subscription Services: Kindle Unlimited, Audible, Comixology

Unlimited reading and listening and comics and books and voracious readers everywhere are like


But Audible and Comixology are owned by Amazon—so where do you turn?

Scribd covers ebooks, comics, and audiobooks for one low monthly fee, and they’ve got enough titles to keep your TBR towering.

For just audiobooks there’s, Downpour, and (exclusively Penguin Random House, but they’ve got one or two titles you’ll recognize).

Need a digital comics fix? There’s always Comics Plus, Marvel Unlimited, or Scribd.

There’s also your local library! They probably have Overdrive or hoopla for your e-book and audiobook needs. And they’re so cheap, they’re free with a library card.



All your ebooks in one place! No heavy books to lug around.


But you can do that and support you indie with a Kobo.


With 40 million users, it’s hard to beat the social aspect of Goodreads. But LibraryThing is an excellent alternative. It has a strong community and an even stronger cataloging capabilities; and now it has an app! Track your reading and get all data nerdy (as I am wont to do).


Yes, Amazon is cheap and easy; but if you want alternatives they’re absolutely out there. And I’d love to hear more suggestions from other book nerds who avoid Amazon. Until next time!