Oops! Not An Alternative To Amazon (Updated)

UPDATE: Turns out that Bookshop.org is slso an ignorant and bigoted business. They too have banned Anderson’s book. See the combox below (HT: HB Reader Daniel). 🤦🏻‍♂️


Before there was Amazon readers used to browse through the shelves of local used  bookstores. These were stores, like a grocery store, with books. Used bookstores carried books that others had read and had, for one reason or another, sold or traded for another book. My hometown, Lincoln, Neb still has a used bookstore or two. Bluestem Books is my favorite. They have a decent little classics section and a small but robust religion section. In San Diego we had Adams Avenue, which is a street that was lined with bookstores, including one with that name which featured a large theological and religious studies section. Sadly it is closed now.

In the wake of Amazon’s decision to begin removing books of which they do not approve (namely, Ryan T. Anderson’s, When Harry Became Sally) I have begun shopping for books (and other products) elsewhere. What good is a bookstore that will not sell me a book that I want to buy? It seems as if they have broken the implicit contract we had: I look for a book, you stock the book, I order the book, you sell the book. I have been buying books since 1979. I started by scouring the giant Goodwill Store and the used bookshops. Lincoln is a college town so I was able to amass a decent little library during college. In all those years I have never once had a bookseller tell me, “Oh no, you may not buy that book.” Frankly, it is none of the bookseller’s business what I read. Doubtless there are books I should not read but I shall leave it to my pastor, elders, friends, colleagues, and wife to instruct me on that. Recently I stumbled on bookshop.org and I was pleased with the service. There are other similar alternative sites but I like the fact that this one sends a portion of the purchase price to a local used bookstore.

Here is another thing that we used to do before Amazon: order online directly from the publisher. In the case of Anderson’s, When Harry… you can order it directly from Encounter Books (in hardcover, paper, or as an e-book). I ordered mine in hardcopy and if Amazon does not approve, they can pound sand.

What other alternatives are there to Bookshop and Amazon? Comments are open.



    Post authored by:

  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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  1. thriftbooks.com seems to be good, too. At least that is where I ordered used copies of “The Book Wars” and “Slouching Towards Gomorrah” a few years ago without any a problems and at a cheap price.

  2. I’ve done my best to boycott Amazon for nearly eight years. I usually go straight to the publisher; it may cost more, but I’d rather give them the money than Jeff Bezos. Also use ABE online and others like it. Bookstores, books sales, have been my favorite haunts for years. I have a limited wardrobe. I have alot of books. Thanks for the other suggestions!

    • Same here. Amazon’s search only returns low-quality, counterfeit goods now. Small businesses who sell their product through Amazon quickly find them copied by Amazon.

      Unfortunately, Amazon has monopolized electronic books so I still buy books through it just like I did in 1998, but I use other book stores whenever possible. I’ve noticed I’ve had to buy a couple of Kindle books twice, meaning their library management software is going in the direction of all software nowadays: in the toilet.

  3. Thanks so much for that, Dr Clark – I’ve just visited bookshop.org and have never before seen such an informative and relevant title search engine as they have, and that in addition to their having a site special to UK. One snag: To get to “About”, “Contact us”, etc., you could be scrolling down for ages, unless you use the search facility, which, with some keywords, will give a very limited list of answers, when scrolling to the bottom of the screen is far quicker.
    Sadly, I don’t know how to boycott Amazon for purchases other than books.

    • I don’t know about the USA, but it’s available for £12.08 on bookshop.org in the UK (URL is also bookshop.org, not bookshop.org.uk). Could you check, please, Dr Clark, what you get on bookshop.org when you look it up in the USA?

    • Correction: bookshop.org says it’s reduced from £12.99 (to £12.08), not the >£20 I thought I saw.
      Clearly the persons running bookshop.org have taken WHBS off in America because they’re scared of the Trans Chauvinists – and no wonder! These aren’t mere Nicolas-Chauvinists: Out to silence all opposition so they can mutilate our children for no good reason, wreck women’s sports, and ensconce their uncastrated selves to terrorise women in their intimate accommodations, they’re Derek-Chauvinists. Everyone needs to stand up to them.

  4. I got my copy of Anderson’s book directly from the publisher. But 90% of the books I buy I get used from Amazon…..I have found that the least expensive used books in “acceptable” condition often contain wonderful insight in the form or margin notes from pastors that used them for study and sermon preparation. Often the notes are as valuable to me as the book content. Not only that, but these books are often available for a few dollars because of writing, underlining, and highlighting. It has become a hobby to research the original owner of the book when the cover includes a name or stamp, and on occasion, to contact a family member to express gratitude for the blessings of these notes. I also seek out used book stores when I travel for the same reason. A well used and worn book has charm and warmth that a brand new book just doesn’t have.

    • Please see my reply to myself, above. It MAY be that bookshop.org are merely trying to sell off remaining copies cheap in the UK where they may not anticipate so much publicity (the £ price is reduced from >£20 to £12.08).

  5. Thriftbooks has it for now. They fly the rainbow flag for Pride Month so who knows how long it will be there.

    This is why we need trust-busting and regulations. BigTech has monopolized most markets and the small competitors that do exist are ideologically-aligned with Big Tech and usually worked there. The consumer doesn’t have choices in this market

  6. I found the book on Abebooks.com 🙂

    Thriftbooks had some “suspensions” on there…..

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