Mary Knox Merrill
Barefoot Books co-founder and CEO Nancy Traversy said the company faced 'challenges' in their business relationship with Amazon.

Life without Amazon? Barefoot Books is the David that cut ties to Goliath

Massachusetts-based publisher Barefoot Books had previously cut ties with Barnes & Noble and Borders.

The lion and the mouse, the underdog and the bully, David and Goliath. However you frame it, it’s big news when a publisher decides to cut ties with Amazon. 

Barefoot Books, a small children’s publishing house in Cambridge, Mass., announced this week that it has decided to stop selling its books on Amazon.

“The challenges we have faced doing business with Amazon over the years are similar to those we experienced selling to the big box retail chains,” Barefoot Books’ co-founder and CEO Nancy Traversy said in a news release. “Personal relationships with buyers are rare, particularly when you’re a small publisher. Our books become commodities that are usually heavily discounted and Amazon often starts selling them before we have even received our advance copies from the printer.”

Since its founding in 1993, Barefoot Books has published more than 500 multicultural children’s books to “help children on their journey to become happy, engaged members of the global community” and to “create a worldwide network of story-lovers who believe in the importance of imagination in children’s lives.”

This isn’t the first time Barefoot Books has walked away from a large distributing partner. In 2006, it stopped selling books to Barnes and Noble and Borders, citing its commitment to its core values, among which is providing “an authentic alternative to the commercialization of childhood.”

If they’ve cut ties with Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and the now-defunct Borders, where is Barefoot selling its books?

As Publishers Weekly writes, the children’s publisher will “focus on selling direct through its bookstore/studios in Concord, Mass., and Oxford, England, and its boutique in FAO Schwarz in New York City.” It will also offer its books on its website, and expand its “Ambassador” network of home-based sellers.

It’s a bold move, to say the least, and one that has us wondering: Might this be the beginning of an exodus from Amazon?

In fact, it’s unlikely many publishers will follow suit, but it’s sure to give other publishers ideas of an existence without Amazon.

Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Life without Amazon? Barefoot Books is the David that cut ties to Goliath
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today