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Why not to buy from Amazon

As mentioned on my ‘Book’ posts, can I please encourage you all to avoid Amazon. I believe that the way that businesses like Amazon, Google and Vodafone run their tax affairs skews the prices they offer to consumer in their favour and creates an unfair playing field.

Creating a competitive advantage through scale is one thing, it might not be great, but it still leaves a smaller business an opportunity to compete on service. However, when you factor in the huge cost ‘advantage’ that low tax offers to the likes of Amazon, you suddenly have such a high price differential (compared to a small operation) that it make purchase decisions for the average customer much harder. Over the last six months we have virtually abandoned Amazon as a source, so what are the alternatives:

1 – Specifically for books, don’t rule out a local book shop. Quite a lot of the cycling books are considered to be niche products, so the likes of Amazon will discount them by just a small amount if in fact they offer any discount. And book shops give you a great opportunity to have a browse and find other books – you may go in looking for the Pantini book above and come out with something on marmalade making [for instance] as well.

Great book shops in Bath include:

1 – Mr B’s Emporium Of Reading Delights – which is tucked behind Jooy’s department and handily just opposite The Salamander, one of Bath Ales very nice pubs. The bookshop has a wonderful feel along the lines of Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium about it, and a pleasantly large sellection of quirky bicycle books.

2 – Topping and Company Booksellers of Bath – at the top of Milson Street, this bookshop exudes old school charm and is a delight for an extended browse (without the kids).

2 – Other online suppliers. This is tricky territory, as quite a few will be working on the same unsavoury business model as Amazon, however it’s definitely worth a search online for specific books, as we’re finding that ‘normal’ suppliers are increasingly meeting Amazon prices.

3 – Don’t ignore ebay. I have no doubt that much of the ‘business’ done on ebay is part of a very black economy and many traders will be avoiding their taxes, but is that any worse from an ethical perspective than what Amazon are doing? I appreciate that legally it’s not right, but if it’s a small UK business or family selling on ebay to keep themselves afloat, then that’s got to more acceptable than a corporation shipping profits off-shore tax vehicle to share amongst their shareholders. And don’t forget that there will be a huge numbers of cyclists out there selling their second-hand books on ebay.

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