A hopeful update on union book sales from LabourStart

by Eric Lee

Eric Lee

Eric Lee

Steve Early’s article “Reading, Writing and Union Building” is an excellent overview of the state of union book sales and publishing. As he quotes from something I wrote four years ago,  I thought it might be useful to provide an update – and perhaps a glimmer of hope.

LabourStart was one of the very first trade union websites to attempt to sell books and we launched our Labour’s Online Bookstore way back in 1998. It was a partnership with Amazon.com.  We’d select books to sell, people would buy them from Amazon, and we’d get a small share of each sale. But within a couple of years, it became clear to us that Amazon was an anti-union company and that there was an alternative: Portland, Oregon’s Powells Books, which had just been unionized.   Working with Powells was the morally right thing to do, but — to be honest — was not very profitable. By the early part of this decade, many people already had accounts at Amazon and were not willing to try other online bookstores which were often more expensive.

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