Independent Bookstores Troll Jeff Bezos Following Space Flight

A number of independent bookstores and authors have criticized Jeff Bezos after the billionaire successfully launched himself into space.

Bezos, CEO of Amazon and the world's richest man, completed his 10 minute suborbital flight on the New Shepard rocket, built by his Blue Origin company, on Tuesday.

The other crew members were his brother Mark Bezos, 18-year-old student Oliver Daemen, and 82-year-old aviation pioneer Wally Funk, who finally made it into space 50 years after an all-woman space mission dubbed "Mercury 13" was scrapped.

Even before the rocket launch, Bezos and fellow billionaire, space tourism rival Richard Branson, were criticized for using their vast wealth for space adventures and not aiding humanitarian or climate change issues.

Bezos, in particular, has been widely condemned for the poor working conditions of Amazon workers, especially during the pandemic, with the billionaire also reported to have paid no or little federal income tax down the years.

A number of independent bookstores—among many businesses who suffered as Amazon became the largest online retailer in the world—have now used Bezos' space launch to troll the CEO while urging people to spend their money on them instead.

May I just take the opportunity to say that if you buy from a high street bookshop your money stays in the local economy; indie shops and Waterstones pay taxes that fund everything from education to nurses' salaries. We promise not to shoot your money into space in a giant penis.

— Kenilworth Books 📚🦔 (@KenilworthBook) July 21, 2021


— Book Cellar (@BookCellar) July 20, 2021

"Since independent bookstores pay our taxes, allow our employees normal amounts of bathroom breaks, don't sell your data/private info, and support our communities, we don't have the money to go to space, but we CAN recommend some great books about it," the Minnesota-based Red Balloon Bookstore tweeted while sharing a link where customers can buy books about space from them.

Author Jared Yates Sexton tweeted: "Just to properly frame it, Jeff Bezos used your money and money that should've gone to build schools and roads and public housing and provide healthcare and support small businesses to blast himself into "near space" and enjoy days of uncritical media fawning."

He added: "It's fun that all the independent bookstores which are community institutions and serve a public good while struggling to keep the lights on got to watch the guy who destroyed them take a little space ride."


— Harvard Book Store (@HarvardBooks) July 20, 2021

Square Book, who are based in Oxford, Mississippi, tweeted: "We don't really need to go to space, we just wanna sell you some books."

Loyalty Bookstores, who are based in D.C. and Maryland, also encouraged people to tweet out their merchandise which state "f**k Jeff Bezos" on Tuesday to show support for independent bookstores.

I don’t have a @Loyaltybooks T-shirt, but i’m still participating in this morning’s bookseller bonding.

— Meg Wasmer (@megpyre) July 20, 2021

Wouldn’t this be a GREAT DAY to buy a book from an indie bookstore???

📚> 🚀

— Rebecca Makkai (@rebeccamakkai) July 20, 2021

Elsewhere, New York Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez condemned Bezos for thanking Amazon employees and customers after he successfully landed on Tuesday, saying "you guys paid for all of this."

"So seriously, for every Amazon customer out there and every Amazon employee, thank you from the bottom of my heart very much. It's very appreciated," he said.

In a tweet, Ocasio-Cortez said: "Yes, Amazon workers did pay for this—with lower wages, union busting, a frenzied and inhumane workplace, and delivery drivers not having health insurance during a pandemic.

"And Amazon customers are paying for it with Amazon abusing their market power to hurt small business."

Amazon has been contacted for comment.

jeff bezos space
Blue Origin’s New Shepard crew (L-R) Oliver Daemen (hidden), Mark Bezos, Jeff Bezos, and Wally Funk arrive for a press conference after flying into space in the Blue Origin New Shepard rocket on July 20, 2021 in Van Horn, Texas. Joe Raedle/Getty Images