PORTLAND, Oregon — Being an independent bookstore is very important to Powell's Books, which opened in Portland in 1971. Even the homepage of the Powell's website explains why its independence means so much to the third-generation family-owned business:
"As an independent bookstore, we strive to offer the same variety and richness of experience as the books on our shelves," the site reads. "And because the only people we’re beholden to are our customers and ourselves, we can focus on what really matters — promoting diverse perspectives, upholding the free exchange of ideas, championing the enduring power of books, and bolstering the great community of readers and authors we’re lucky to be a part of."
Now, just in time for Independent Bookstore Day on Aug. 29, Powell's announced it will no longer sell its products on Amazon marketplace.
In a community update posted on Wednesday, CEO Emily Powell explained the decision, which she says was not an easy one to make.
"For too long, we have watched the detrimental impact of Amazon’s business on our communities and the independent bookselling world," said Powell in the post. "We understand that in many communities, Amazon — and big box retail chains — have become the only option. And yet when it comes to our local community and the community of independent bookstores around the U.S., we must take a stand. The vitality of our neighbors and neighborhoods depends on the ability of local businesses to thrive. We will not participate in undermining that vitality."
Of course, especially in the time of a pandemic, when Powell's stores were closed to in-person shopping for months (the downtown store is back open now, with limited hours!), the Amazon third-party marketplace provided critical revenue for the business.
"While it is challenging to step away at this time, Powell’s is confident that this change is ultimately in the company’s interest, and in the interest of the community of book lovers it serves," reads the announcement from the bookstore.
Independent Bookstore Day is coming up on Saturday, Aug. 29. It's a day to celebrate over 600 local bookstores around the country, with a full day of virtual author events and exclusive books and literary items only available on that day.
"This year’s celebration of Independent Bookstore Day on August 29 feels especially weighty, as a result, as so many independent booksellers around the country fight for their survival and wonder what their future may hold," said CEO Emily Powell in her community post. "No one goes into the book business expecting an easy path, and each year typically brings its share of surprises and challenges. This year, of course, is like none other in memory. We are all climbing the mountain ahead of us, but the outcome is uncertain."
In honor of the book-loving holiday, Powell's is offering a discount to make it extra easy to support your local independent bookstore.