Powell’s Books, the venerable independent bookstore in Portland, has had enough with Amazon and will no longer sell books through the tech giant’s marketplace.

In a letter to the store’s community of customers on Wednesday, Powell’s owner and CEO Emily Powell said that she was taking the stand to mark Independent Bookstore Day, which falls on Saturday.

“For too long, we have watched the detrimental impact of Amazon’s business on our communities and the independent bookselling world,” Powell wrote. “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,” she continued. “We will not participate in undermining that vitality.”

Powell’s, which has been in Portland since 1971, was hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic when it was forced to close in March and 300 employees were out of work. Powell told The Oregonian in May that she was buoyed by an outpouring of support from book lovers and that the store would survive.

“We remain grateful for your online orders,” Powell said in another community message on July 16. “After an initial burst of support in mid-March after we closed our stores, sales have continued to decline, but we are doing everything we can to reverse that trend and to find ways to keep our operations going.”

Here’s the full letter from Emily Powell, dated Aug. 26:

Hello Powell’s Community,

Happy almost Independent Bookstore Day to you! We hope this letter finds you with plenty of good reading material at hand, and the perfect end-of-summer moments to dedicate to your book of choice.

Amongst us book lovers, there’s almost a special code when you meet another reader — we talk about our favorite bookstores. 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. 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.

At Powell’s, we have decided to mark this year’s Independent Bookstore Day by announcing that we will no longer sell our books on Amazon’s marketplace. For too long, we have watched the detrimental impact of Amazon’s business on our communities and the independent bookselling world. 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.

We hope you will join us in celebrating this year’s Independent Bookstore Day by buying books at your favorite independent bookstore.

Emily

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