Is it Even Possible to live without Amazon?

Putting my money where my mouth is

9/1/20234 min read

I thought I had it all planned. I was almost ready to load the new edition of the Russian Mennonite Trilogy onto Amazon. Then wham! The Lord hit me hard with the question? “So, when are you going to start putting your money where your mouth is?”

I have always hated the way the world’s biggest monopolies were taking over the global economy. I have seen how these billion dollar corporations have been steadily siphoning business away from the smaller companies, gradually gobbling them up, and working toward the day when they would have 100% control of the market place.

I had experienced this in a tiny way when I sold fruit and vegetables at the market. There was always someone with a big backer who would come in with peaches that were cheaper than all the competition. A couple of hours into the day, after the smaller vendors had realized they would be stuck with a whole lot of quickly ripening fruit, the corporate backed vendor would play nice guy and buy up their whole lot. The little guys would be relieved to go home with an empty wagon, and the corporate man, having rid himself of all the competition, would turn around and sell the peaches to the consumer at premium prices. The vendors and the consumers were being used to help the big guy create his monopoly.

I have always detested the practice, and have often spoken out against it. And yet as a consumer, I have a hard time “putting my money where my mouth is.” After all, I have to watch my pennies just like everybody else, right? And so the cycle continues.

As I prepared to post the second edition of the Russian Mennonite Trilogy onto Amazon, the Lord sent me a challenge. The amazing cover designer, David Koechel, who had created my gorgeous new book covers, was also in the business of bringing books through the whole process from design all the way to the finished product. I had the option of taking the production of my books out of the hands of the world’s biggest destroyer of small businesses, and placing it in the hands of one of those businesses that I wanted to protect. What could be an easier decision, right?

Well, it should have been an easy decision, but it wasn’t. Amazon is still in the stage of doing away with its competition and is offering what looks, to the natural eye, like the obvious choice. How could I possibly afford not to go with them? Could I really balk the system that seems to have already captured the book market for the whole world? True, it isn’t easy getting noticed on Amazon with all the millions of other books competing for the reader’s attention. And true, Amazon is not super friendly toward Christian values, but …

I was in a quandary, the same sort of quandary that the Susie of “Susie’s Calling” had faced with her precious fifty cents. I was experiencing the same sort of struggle. I fought the battle for a day, miserable, and yet determined to know what God wanted me to do.

That evening, as I always do just before our evening devotions, I picked up the book we were in the process of reading. It was my dad’s auto-biography, and we were at the place where my grandpa, Susie's Papa, had asked my parents to move to Coaldale, Alberta, and take over his printing mission. His mission shop printed German books, a monthly magazine, and tracts, and sent them all over the world but mostly to Germany. In his book Dad described the whole operation, and it brought back memories of my first job as a twelve year old, sitting in the back room in front of the staple machine, working at developing a steady even rhythm, gauging my production speed, and constantly striving for improvement.

The printing mission was a family business in the truest sense. My whole family worked together and loved it, but eventually the cost of mailing to Germany became so expensive that Dad decided to have the printing done in Germany. The agreement was that he would continue to be the editor and chief, writing the editorials, and having the final say in what was to be printed. It wasn’t long, however, before he had totally lost control of the whole operation.

As I read to Hugh, we both marveled at how we had “just happened” to be reading about my family's printing shop in the 1960s while we were facing a decision about another printing mission in 2023. The two printing processes were, of course, totally different, but at the same time, there were some eerily similar aspects to the story. The memory was speaking to me.

I put Dad's book down and picked up my Bible for our evening devotions, and everything there spoke to me as well. I knew the Russian Mennonite Trilogy was in God’s hands, and I realized that He had His own plans for it. By the time we started praying, I had an assurance that if I did what the Lord was directing me to do, God would handle the rest. A heavy weight lifted from my heart replaced by that acceleration that always comes after winning a battle.

Susie's Story will soon be in print again but not as a paper back on Amazon. I wait with great anticipation to see what the Lord has in store for it.

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