Another Alternative to Amazon

May 8, 2013 | By Paul Mackenzie Ross | Filed in: Books, business, philosophy.

The McDonaldization of Society - George RitzerWith the threat of our beloved and run-down pub, the Tumbledown Dick, being turned into a McDonald’s restaurant somebody pointed me in the direction of a very interesting book – The McDonaldization of Society.

The book, first published in 1993, is written by sociologist George Ritzer and looks at the increasing rationalisation of the world as conducted by big bureaucratic organisations such as McDonald’s. The processes used by the fast food giant streamline the production and delivery of burgers & fries, impose the division of labour, force a formal manifesto and make the company’s “character” impersonal and technocratic…

You have only to step into any McDonald’s restaurant in the world to see this in action. You order a burger, it’s often already waiting at the end of a metal shute in a waxed paper wrapper or box, and the fries have already been salted, whether you wanted that or not. The uniformed worker simply collates your order and hands it to you. No gossip about how business is going or which local farm their produce comes from because that’s irrelevant.

That’s McDonaldization for you.

(NB there was a show on radio 4 a few weeks ago about how McDonald’s sources their food –

Better World Books

Now what’s this got to do with being another alternative to Amazon?

I wanted to order a copy of this book and went to my first choice alternative – Hive only had very expensive new and hardback copies so I actually browsed Amazon for a used copy. There it was, at the bottom of the list – A “very good condition” edition for just £4.27 plus £2.80 postage.

I checked the vendor’s name, Better World Books, and left Amazon, going directly to where I ordered the same book for $6.53 plus FREE postage and a $0.05 carbon offset because the book will be sent on a plane from the USA.

OK, so maybe I shouldn’t be buying books that are being shipped (flown?) across the Atlantic, but it’s getting here very slowly (up to 21 days). Furthermore, the book I’m buying is second hand – It was donated to Better World Books and by purchasing it they will use that money toward literacy programmes, in Africa for instance.

So, I’ve got the same book for the same price at the same vendor and I’ve saved the obligatory £2.80 postage – Who was that £2.80 going to? Amazon? Better World Books? If Better World Books can mail my purchase for free then it makes me wonder if the tax-avoiding giant named after a South American rainforest would have been the recipient of that extra dosh.

Luckily I picked a new alternative to Amazon then, isn’t it?

PS there’s a UK version of the website, so feel free to go get some second hand books from

PPS remember that you can get books delivered direct to your friendly local bookstore through Hive and for hand-curated books from progressive, independent authors there’s Beetroot Books too.


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