American Booksellers Association and Civic Economics Release Amazon Report

The American Booksellers Association and Civic Economics Release:

Unfulfilled: Amazon and the American Retail Landscape

A Report Outlining the Negative Impact of Amazon on Local Communities, just in Time for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday

A new report released by the American Booksellers Association (ABA) and Civic Economics reveals the costs and consequences for communities when people shop with Amazon. The report’s findings show the impact of Amazon in 2021:

• 136,000 retail shops were displaced. 1.1 billion square feet of traditional retail space was displaced resulting in empty storefronts all over the United States

• Despite the suggestion that Amazon creates jobs, 1.7 million retail workers and 70,000 distribution workers were displaced.

• The $367 billion consumers spent with Amazon instead of at local businesses meant less money circulating in communities. Buying from independent booksellers creates 4X more local economic activity than buying from Amazon.

“This report shows the costs and consequences to communities as Amazon continues to box out small business. Our communities benefit in countless ways when we shop local and this report makes clear how much is at stake when we don’t. The impact is so much more than just an empty storefront when a business closes. Our choices matter, where we spend our money matters, and our communities matter.” – Allison Hill, ABA CEO


ABA has a long history of bringing attention to the cost and consequences of shopping with Amazon versus local independently-owned businesses:

#BoxedOut Marketing Campaign

In 2020, ABA launched #BoxedOut, a national marketing campaign that went viral with 4.5 billion media impressions. Independent bookstore storefronts were covered with cardboard facades, reminiscent of the ubiquitous Amazon brown boxes on porches and in lobbies across America, and quotes such as “Don’t box out bookstores” and “Books curated by a real person, not a creepy algorithm.” Hundreds of indie bookstores took to social media to start a conversation about the cost and consequences of “convenience” shopping and how the growing market dominance of Amazon adversely affects local communities: the erosion of jobs, a loss of character for our hometowns, and less money for the local economy. 

Antitrust Lobbying Efforts

ABA lobbies for better enforcement of antitrust laws and the regulation of Amazon. A significant national conversation about antitrust and monopolies is underway. California Attorney General Rob Bonta filed a lawsuit against Amazon, accusing the online giant of anticompetitive practices to stifle competition, which ultimately drove up prices. The Federal Trade Commission, the agency charged with enforcement of civil U.S. antitrust law and the promotion of consumer protection, is reportedly conducting investigations into potential antitrust violations by Amazon. And while Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) has delayed bringing the American Innovation and Choice Online Act (S.2992) to the floor for consideration and a vote, the bill’s sponsor, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), has stressed that she has more than enough Senate votes to pass the bill.  

Sales Tax Collection

Historically, ABA was the leading voice in the Marketplace Fairness Coalition which sought Congressional action on sales tax fairness and Amazon sales being subject to sales tax. Sales tax fairness has resulted in billions of dollars annually for state and local governments and a more level playing field for small business.

Recent Books

Two recently published books highlight what’s at stake when it comes to Amazon:

  • How to Resist Amazon and Why: The Fight for Local Economies, Data Privacy, Fair Labor, Independent Bookstores, and a People-Powered Future by Danny Caine, the owner of the Raven Bookstore in Lawrence, Kansas, and an ABA Board Director. Danny is available for interviews.

  • Checkpoint Capitalism: How Big Tech and Big Content Captured Creative Labor Markets and How We’ll Win Them Back, by Rebecca Giblin and Cory Doctorow. 

About ABA

ABA is a not-for-profit trade association supporting over 2,500 independent bookstores across the country. 

About Civic Economics

Civic Economics is an economic analysis and strategic planning consultancy focused on helping communities develop sustainable prosperity. More information about Civic Economics and the Unfulfilled report can be found at

Photo courtesy of Solid State Books, Washington, DC.

Graphics Data Source: Civic Economics

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