Powell`s Books` Stand against Amazon: Can Small Businesses Survive?

Powell`s Books` Stand against Amazon: Can Small Businesses Survive?
Case Code: CLBS174
Case Length: 5 Pages
Period: 2019-20
Pub Date: 2022
Teaching Note: Available
Price: Rs.200
Organization: Powell’s Books
Industry: Retailing
Countries: United States
Themes: Distribution, Competitive Strategy, Business Level Strategies, Strategy Formulation
Powell`s Books` Stand against Amazon: Can Small Businesses Survive?


The case “Powell’s Books’ Stand Against Amazon: Can Small Businesses Survive?” talks about the decision taken by the world’s largest independent bookstore, US-based Powell’s Books (PB), to abandon the world’s largest online marketplace, Amazon.com, Inc. (Amazon), as a sales channel. The case provides the reasons that drove PB – that was at the end of the day, a small business – to take that particular decision. The influence of the COVID-19 pandemic on PB’s decision is also discussed. An insight is given into how the particular discussion could impact the future prospects of PB. The case strives to ask questions about how small businesses can survive changes in buying behavior, advances in technology, and unexpected business upheavals.


  • Understand the importance of small businesses in an economy
  • Examine the challenges faced by small businesses
  • Analyze the business practices of large corporations that negatively impact small businesses
  • Scrutinize the role of governments in determining the health of small businesses
  • Recognize the role played by local communities in saving small businesses


In August 2020, US-based Powell’s Books (PB) , the world’s largest independent bookstore for new and used books, announced that it would no longer sell its books on the world’s largest online marketplace, Amazon.com, Inc. (Amazon) . Emily Powell (Powell), CEO of PB, stated in a letter to customers, that the COVID-19 pandemic had finally pushed the company to abandon Amazon as a sales channel. The company specified that it would, however, continue to sell books through its own online store (launched in 1994, a little before Amazon was launched), apart from its four brick-and-mortar stores..


Millennials; Competitive Advantage; Small Business; Customer Service; Distribution Strategy; Sales Channel; Business Environment; Business Strategy; Local Community; Large Corporations Impact; Government Regulations; Role of Multinationals; Business Survival Strategy; Misuse of Market Power; Indie Retailers

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