Why and How I Boycotted Amazon

Someone giving the middle finger to a computer screen with the Amazon web page on it.

While there are usually many reasons to boycott a multinational corporation, I decided this winter that it was time to take the plunge and look into divorcing myself from this particular giant.

There’s a Wikipedia page dedicated to Amazon “controversies”, or offensive shit they’ve done. From actively suppressing unionizing efforts  by its employees to selling a doormat with the Indian flag on it in the Canadian store, they don’t seem to particularly care about even giving the impression they care about human rights and interests, never mind wanting to make the world a better place in some meaningful way.

I used Amazon the most for books. In search of an inexpensive way to feed my appetite for books, I ordered books from Amazon for years instead of paying the extra $5 to support my local bookstores. This was the biggest cue for me that it was time to cut all ties from The (Amazon) Man.

First, I had to find another source for books that, for whatever reason, I wanted to order online. Usually, I look for used books online that would be out of my budget to purchase new. For this, I now use “Better World Books”. From their website:

“We’re breaking new ground in online bookselling. We believe that education and access to books are basic human rights. That’s why books sold on BetterWorldBooks.com help fund high-impact literacy projects in the United States and around the world. That’s why we commit to matching every purchase on our website with a book donation to someone in need.”

The next task for me was figuring out what to do with my ebooks. Although it’s not impossible, admittedly it’s a good deterrent to a total Amazon boycott. However, once you have succeeded in moving your books off of Amazon’s servers, you will own the files with no danger of Amazon revoking your right to read them. Here’s the process I used. I have an iPhone and a Mac computer.

WHAT YOU WILL NEED

Calibre software on your computer

package of Calibre De-DRM tools
Marvin App (apparently Moon is the best Android Kindle alternative)
-Kindle reader for Mac or PC (Amazon change their links a lot, so just go to the Kindle store and look for Free reading apps)
-Your Amazon password
-A Dropbox Account connected to sync with your computer. Create a folder called Ebooks (or whatever name makes sense for you)

STEPS

1. Create a folder somewhere easy to find on your computer entitled “Kindle Books.”

2. Open Calibre on your computer. It’s not the best, but we’ll only use it to convert your ebooks and then you never have to look at it again. In “Preferences”, click on “Plugins”, and then “Load plugin from File.” Select the DeDRM stuff you downloaded from the Github link above.

3. Still in the Calibre app, you need to tell the application where to find your Amazon books, as well as what to do with them when they’re found. Open up the Preferences pane (the icon at the top, or use the menu). Under Import / Export, click the Adding books icon.

On the window that pops up, click the Automatic Adding tab. At the top of this section is a box into which you can enter the name of the folder you created earlier. Click the little button at the end of the box and you’ll be able to use the file selector to choose the folder.

A little further down you’ll see a checkbox that’s marked Automatically convert added files to the current output format, you’ll need to make sure it’s checked. Click Apply to save the settings.

Finally we must tell Calibre what we want to do with the ebooks it finds. On the main Preferences screen, click Common Options, then in the window that pops up, choose Page Setup. In the Output Profile, I selected Generic e-ink and it worked just fine. In the Input Profile, select Kindle, as you’ll be importing Kindle books. Click Apply to save the settings, and you’re all done with the hard part! (Source for this step)

4. Finally, still in Calibre, but on the main application interface, click on the arrow to the right of the “Library” icon and then click Switch/Create Library. Here, select the folder you created in your Dropbox folder for your books. Save.

5. Quit Calibre, then re-open it.

6. Sign in to the Kindle for Mac or PC app, and find (and change) the location of your books in the general preferences. Simply choose Preferences from the Kindle menu. In the General tab, you can find an entry Content Folder and a button to change it. Select the “Kindle Books” folder you just created.

7. In the Kindle for Mac or PC app, download all the books you’d like to keep from your Amazon account. You should have everything set up correctly by now, and so if you keep the Kindle app as well as the Calibre app open, you should be able to witness in real time your Amazon books downloading, Calibre converting them, and Dropbox uploading them to the cloud.

8. While this is happening, go to your iPhone and open the Marvin app. Tap the gear icon at the top left corner, and then navigate to “Services” and swipe until you see Dropbox. Connect to your Dropbox and then under “Custom search folder” type in the name of the folder you created in your Dropbox to hold your books. As your Amazon books are converted and uploaded by Calibre, you will be able to see them and download them to read by “Getting Books” on your “Library” screen in Marvin.

WHEW! It’s definitely a process to divorce from Amazon, but what divorce isn’t a little messy? Once you can see all your books in Marvin, you’re safe to delete your Amazon account, as well as your Calibre app. Just make sure you keep all those converted books in your Dropbox, as that’s where they live now.

Questions?
Comment below!

Freedom + Justice,

Rebecca Woodmass

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