Borders Bookstore sign WhenAmazon sold its first book, Borders (remember them?) was generatingabout $1.6 billion a year in sales. (Photo: Shutterstock)

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I have a love/hate relationship with Amazon. It's hard to arguewith unprecedented convenience, low prices and two-day shipping.Who doesn't need that jumbo pack of Q-tips and a doggiethundershirt ASAP?

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On the other hand, there are horror stories about theirwarehouse working conditions (See Jessica Bruder's “Nomadland.” OnAmazon for only $11.56!), and the creepiness ofin-home robots listening to your every word while squadrons ofpackage-delivering drones descends upon your doorstep.

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Do I still shop there despite my misgivings? Constantly.

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BenefitsPRO editor-in-chief PaulWilson muses on the benefits industry in an Amazon world.

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Related: To compete with Amazon, CVS dips a toe into theonline retail business

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Amazon, JP Morgan and Berkshire Hathaway recently turned an eye toward health care, and bigthings are starting to happen. Our cover story (page 12) features Mick Rodgers, a benefitsadvisor serving as a consultant to the joint venture. He offers aninsider's perspective on what to expect, where advisors will, andsome great advice on how to get ahead of the curve.

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There's still plenty of room in Amazon's world. Evidence comesfrom an unlikely source: bookstores. When Amazon sold its firstbook, Borders (remember them?) was generating about $1.6 billion ayear in sales. And while Barnes & Noble is still around, thewriting's on the wall. Yes, Amazon wreaked havoc onbooksellers.

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BenefitsPRO March CoverFlip through the digital edition of our March issuenow.

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At first, independent bookstores looked like the next victims.The number of indies fell 43 percent in five years after Amazonentered the scene—and that was before Kindle. But a funny thinghappened on the way to the morgue. From 2009 until the present,indies have seen a nearly 40 percent increase, with more popping upevery day. Why? In a Quartz article, Harvard Business Schoolprofessor Ryan Raffaelli attributed it to:

  • Convening: Independent booksellers promoted stores asintellectual centers for convening customers with like-mindedinterests.
  • Community: They championed localism, winning customers back bystressing community values.
  • Curation: They focused on curating inventory that allowed themto provide a more personal and specialized customer experience.They developed personal relationships with customers, helping themdiscover up-and-coming authors and unexpected titles.

It's not about scale; it's about knowledge, trust and a personaltouch. Sound familiar?

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Oh, and for the record, “Nomadland” is also available at yourlocal independent bookseller. Sure, it'll cost a few bucks more,but if you ask me, it's worth it. And while you're there, ask for afew recommendations. You won't regret it.

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Not books, but here are some other goodreads: 

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Paul Wilson

Paul Wilson is the editor-in-chief of BenefitsPRO Magazine and BenefitsPRO.com. He has covered the insurance industry for more than a decade, including stints at Retirement Advisor Magazine and ProducersWeb.