Sustainable Bookshops: Supporting Local Businesses - Ecobuy
sustainable bookshops

Supporting local businesses and leading an eco-friendly lifestyle go hand in hand. Buying from sustainable bookshops means you’re doing both. It’s easy to be a proactive bookworm if you know what to look for and what to avoid.

In this article, we’ll talk about how Amazon is hurting the book industry and what you can do help.

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Amazon vs Sustainable Bookshops

Whether you enjoy flipping through physical books, swiping through ebooks, or listening to audiobooks, your money may be going to Amazon.

Amazon owns both Kindle and Audible, which are respectively the biggest sources of electronic books and audio books. Further, Amazon Prime is one of the largest delivery services through which many people choose to order their books. This means that Amazon dominates the book industry in many countries, including Australia.

A further sidebar on Kindle. Amazon holds about 80% of the ebook market. Thus, publishers and authors are pressured to make their books available on Kindle as well. If you’re an aspiring writer, you may have heard of Kindle Direct Publishing. This is a self-publishing tool, and if you publish a book through Kindle Direct Publishing, the book is available to Amazon and Kindle users.

This is not helped by the fact that Amazon also owns Goodreads – the main platform through which readers discover, review, and recommend books. This means that when you use Goodreads to find a book, you are prompted to purchase the book from Amazon rather than local bookstores.

All of this means that Amazon is a giant in the book industry, from publishing to selling. When big corporations like Amazon dominate a market, it pushes out smaller, community-oriented businesses and damages the viability of sustainable bookshops.

What is the problem?

Here is the problem. Amazon’s take over of the book industry has a ripple effect. We see less local or community-oriented bookshops and more generic and chain bookstores. In fact, sustainable bookshops as a whole, including local bookshops, second hand booksellers, libraries, and book sharing services, are hurt.

What are sustainable bookshops?

Sustainable ReadingSustainable bookshops are bookshops that are people and planet oriented. They come in many forms. Second hand bookshops and independent bookshops are good examples. Most neighbourhoods have one of these.

Buying second hand books over new or electronic books is a great way to be an eco-friendly consumer and support sustainable bookshops. Because it is zero waste and affordable to buy and sell second hand books, many independent bookstores buy and loan books.

Sustainable bookshops are precious to the book market because they are diverse and important for new and local authors. Sustainable bookshops often run book clubs, feature new local books, and invite authors to book signings or talks.

Buying from sustainable bookstores is just one way you can be a mindful consumer.

What can you do as a sustainable book reader?

There are many sustainable and ethical options available if you want to read more books but avoid Amazon. Here is a list of places you can buy and borrow books.

Second hand bookstores

Second hand bookstores are a fantastic option to find and sell second hand books. These bookshops are more affordable and zero waste, because buying used books means that you are using a product that has already been made.

If second hand bookshops are not available to you, your local, independent bookshop is another great option. It is true that buying from independent bookstores is not zero waste, but it does support local businesses. This is a preferable alternative to feeding monopolising corporations.

As aforementioned, ethical and community oriented bookshops are beneficial because they support new and local authors and play an important role in bringing the community together through book clubs, book signings, and talks.

Street libraries

Have you seen little bookshelves overlooking a park or next to the footpath? These are street libraries, where you can drop off or pick up second hand books. Run entirely by the community and founded on good faith, street libraries allow the community to swap and share their books.

You can find your nearest street library using this map, which shows you the location of registered street libraries all over the world. If you’re interested in setting up your own street library to plonk in your front garden, you can register here.


In Australia, borrowing from local libraries or TAFE and university libraries benefits the author. This is part of the Australian Government’s Australian Lending Right Schemes. Under these schemes, authors, publishers, illustrators, translators, and editors are all compensated for the amount they would have made if the book had been sold, not borrowed. So before you check Amazon, make sure you’re sure the book you want is not available in your local library.

If you’re more of a digital book reader, there are options here for you too! Most local libraries in Australia use BorrowBox, which is an app you can download onto your phone to access ebooks and e-audiobooks.

Charity shops and Op shops

Charity stores like Vinnies and Red Cross are great places to donate old books and buy second hand ones. The prices are extremely affordable, the books are in good condition, and the money you pay is used for a philanthropic end. Everyone wins! When you have finished reading, you can even donate the books back to the store so that someone else can enjoy it. You might even find that charities like Lifeline occasionally run book fairs near you.