Amazon's Best Sellers in Atheism and the Barriers to Shop Local Efforts

old books

Just because a book is listed in Amazon.com's regularly-updated collection of Best Sellers in Atheism does not necessarily mean it is really about atheism or even that it is not evangelical Christian drivel. The same is true for their New Releases in Atheism collection. This is unfortunate. Still, these would be among the places I might look if I was hoping to add a book about atheism to my collection and was curious about what had recently been released and/or was especially popular among their customers.

I realize that some consider Amazon.com to be evil and try to steer clear of them. They have obviously not been good for local bookstores. Of course, some of us live in areas that have never had local bookstores, at least not acceptable local bookstores. I have one roughly 15 minutes away that has a massive section of evangelical fundamentalist Christian books and little else. I am about as inclined to support that particular store as I am the local Hobby Lobby, which is to say not at all. Not surprisingly, this one local bookstore does not have anything related to atheism that isn't explicitly anti-atheism. The closest acceptable bookstore is over an hour away and is not much more local than Amazon since it is a Barnes & Noble. I do go there occasionally when my cravings for a bookstore experience reach the point that I can no longer resist them, but that isn't more than a few times a year.

Businesses like Amazon have been so successful, in large part, because they are incredibly convenient. The prices are usually okay, the selection is great, the reviews can be helpful (though not always), and the site layout and search functions work better than most of the alternatives I've tried. Putting all of that together, I find myself looking things up on Amazon even if I end up buying them elsewhere. Whatever allure local shopping might have once had often seems to be a fading memory. And for me, buying books on atheism from local stores has never been an option in Mississippi.

I am aware that there are "shop local" efforts in many communities, though I have seen little of this in the town where I live. That is probably because Walmart ran most of the other grocery options away over a decade ago. Local restaurants are doing fine, but local shops that sell items other than food are clearly struggling. It is fine to encourage people to "shop local," but it doesn't seem to be very effective when most residents aren't even aware of what or where these local businesses are. They prefer to pick up what they need at the Walmart or Home Depot because they are familiar and convenient. Many have come to consider these their local businesses.