Beware of the Everything Store

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Final-Blue

beware of the everything store

[front cover jacket]

as a booklover, i have a complicated relationship with amazon. price, selection and convenience make amazon hard to resist. but the more i learn about how amazon operates, the more motivated i become to find and support alternatives. according to a new yorker profile by george packer, amazon was never intended as just an online bookstore. books were easy to ship for amazon founder jeff bezos, and typically bought by educated consumers with high disposable incomes. getting their information was the real objective. while establishing a stranglehold on online bookselling, amazon set its sights on becoming the ‘everything store’ by trying to sell anything its customers could possibly need. by 2011, amazon had $50 billion in annual revenue, representing 1/3 of all online sales. and yet, if you can believe it, amazon was still not a profitable company. for amazon and its investors, everything is about the long-term.

[back cover jacket]

the ‘everything store’ is now much more than an online store. amazon‘s cloud storage service recently signed a $600 million contract with U.S. intelligence agencies. amazon is a borg-like mass of ‘innovation’ that harnesses data about our preferences and buying patterns to establish monopoly power. in order to keep growing, amazon must squeeze its workers harder, eliminate any competition, and convince us they are indispensable. as long as consumers are happy, everything else is considered disposable. if you’re reading this, it’s not too late. both ‘consent from below’ & ‘persuasion from above’ are necessary to create conditions for domination.

what we can do:

[1] support local cultural producers and independent booksellers

[2] resist ‘big data’ by practicing security culture

[3] ally with amazon workers against bad labour practices

[backstory]

designing this dust jacket was a way for me to unpack my relationship with amazon. i came to see intersecting issues of labour exploitation, surveillance, and monopoly power as inseparable from amazon’s core operations. the book cover is hand-printed and hand-folded, inspired by a regular practice by staff at kinokuniya bookstores (itself a large corporate chain). the jacket simultaneously anonymizes the book underneath, while drawing increased scrutiny with its curious design, which is only fully viewable when unfolded. the relationship between the large singular box and the smaller borg-like cube is deliberately ambiguous. is it a change-oriented ‘chase scene’ — an inversion of the dominant relationship between grassroots actors and large corporate forces — or an origin story — showing how individual (consumer) choices figure in producing and maintaining new systemic realities?

shoutouts:

danboard | the box man: a novel | kinokuniya

let me know if you have ideas for distribution!

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