Since its founding 25 years ago, Amazon has become a dominant online and retail force in modern life. Still, the popular online retailer has garnered its share of criticism; most of it’s related to either Amazon’s aggressive business practices (see the infamous HQ2 search) or the company’s treatment of their workers.
Thus, some might want to consider either cutting down on using Amazon’s services, or avoid them completely. Here’s my list of suggestions for various alternatives. Admittedly, most of them are obvious (just buy something else/shop somewhere else); in some cases, however, it’s harder to find decent alternatives. Also note the public library will turn up a lot—libraries offer a lot of useful services.
Note my suggestions are more tied to avoiding direct usage of Jeff Bezos’ services. Some will point out that Amazon dominates a lot of internet infrastructure via its popular Amazon Web Services. While true, I’m not going to suggest avoiding Netflix because they use AWS.
Amazon Prime / shopping
I’ve written previously about alternatives to Amazon Prime and its individual services, including shopping on the site itself.
- Shopping locally.
- Niche online retailers, such as NewEgg for computer equipment.
- Target. A big-box store that also offers online shipping, and has nicer products/a bit less problematic than rival Walmart.
- Regional big-box stores, such as Meijer in the Midwest.
- Some retailers may price-match Amazon’s prices. I’ve used this to buy a few things from Target and Best Buy.
- The public library, which offers audiobooks for free to check out.
- Kobo offers a similar audiobook subscription service; as of May 2020, it’s priced at $10/month, $5 less than what Audible costs.
- AudioboksNow, an independent service similar to Audible.
I’ve written about Comixology alternatives before. However, digital comics is one area where Amazon dominates to a lopsided degree. Most of the alternatives are either owned by fellow tech giants (Apple, Google), are less pleasant to use, or have other issues. And if you’re buying new DC/Marvel digital single-issue comics every Wednesday, the other choices are very limited.
- Switch to paper comics (and shop at a locally owned comic shop or bookstore).
- Join a digital comics subscription service (Marvel Unlimited, DC Universe, Shonen Jump, etc.).
- The public library offers digital comics for free to check out, usually via Hoopla Digital or Overdrive.
- Kobo offers some digital trade paperbacks.
- Humble Bundle.
- Read webcomics.
I had a hard time finding decent alternatives to Goodreads, but here’s what I’ve found.
- Riffle (www.rifflebooks.com).
- Libib (www.libib.com).
- The public library, which may offer some similar services to Goodreads (user reviews, setting up your own “to be read”/favorite book lists, etc.).
- Use or start your own blog to create a “to be read” book list/favorite books list/write book reviews.
IMDb / Box Office Mojo
- The Numbers (www.the-numbers.com).
- Forbes, Entertainment Weekly, Deadline, and other sites offer box office analyses and figures.
- YouTube offers plenty of video game-related videos. That said, Twitch dominates the live-streaming-gamer landscape.
- Mixer, Microsoft’s own Twitch clone; it’s also integrated into its Xbox console line.
Alexa / Echo devices
- Apple and Google offer similar services and devices to Alexa/Echo.
- Don’t use such devices at all? Some note the privacy concerns about the Echo and similar always-on (and always listening, at least for the trigger word) devices. If that’s a concern, one can simply just not bother using Alexa, Siri, etc.
Kindle (ebooks, ebook reader)
I wrote about Kindle ebook alternatives some years back.
- Kobo (www.kobo.com). Kobo’s one of the dominant ebook sellers outside of the United States, though they’re available here also. They offer a level of service comparable to Amazon’s Kindle, including Kobo apps and ebook readers. Recently, they’ve entered into an agreement to sell their readers in Walmart.
- Individual book publishers (such as Tor, O’Reilly, etc.) might sell books through their own sites.
- Bookshop.org (www.bookshop.org) allows buying paper books through participating independent bookstores or via its own site (with said bookstores given a share of revenue).
- The public library, which offers ebooks to checkout for free, often via the Overdrive or Libby apps.
- The iPad. While there’s Android tablets, I can’t really recommend any of them (lackluster support, etc.). If you don’t want a Fire tablet (my recommendation for low-end/undemanding tablet users), you’re better off saving up for an iPad.
- The Roku. It’s inexpensive and platform-neutral, versus Amazon and Google’s ongoing disputes leading to YouTube’s apps on-again, off-again status on Fire devices.
- Your local supermarket, which also carries organic items just like Whole Foods does. It’s also usually less expensive, plus said supermarket’s more likely to be unionized.
- Various niche services, depending on one’s needs or tastes.
- Redbox, if one’s open to renting DVDs/Blu-Rays. It’s also likely cheaper than renting digitally.
- Apple Music and YouTube Music (or whatever Google’s naming it) are two other options.