Sunday, 21 March 2010

Riddle Me This, Readers: Links and the Like

A few days ago I received an email from a reader asking if I might consider... well, let's have it from the horse's mouth. Hope you don't mind, Kathleen!

"I have always found the links to Amazon very helpful for purposes of adding books you review that intrigue me to my wishlist. However, I’ve decided to stop using Amazon.

"Back when I started buying from Amazon it was new and a bit of an upstart. Internet shopping in general was new. It felt like a good thing to support back then. Now Amazon is the biggest bookseller in the country. It does things like remove the GLBT tag from books, remove MacMillan’s books over e-book pricing disputes and now it is demanding that publishers lock into three-year contracts and guarantee that no other competitor will get lower prices or better terms on e-books. It all just leaves a bad taste in my mouth and makes me more determined than ever to support local bookstores or buy directly from authors whenever I can.

"Including a link to the books on in your reviews would give your US readers an alternative to Amazon and would help support local booksellers across the United States."

Some of you may have found a similar email in your inbox, in fact - Kathleen did say she'd sent her message to all the book bloggers she follows.

In any event, after giving the matter some thought, I think she makes a fair point, and I mean to do exactly as she suggests just as soon as the reviews I've posted the various reviews I already have queued up for the next few weeks. Here's hoping all the other bloggery sorts I've had the pleasure of meeting since The Speculative Scotsman launched in January follow suit.

Certainly I'm only too happy to help support authors and brick and mortar bookstores. I'd much rather my money was lining the pockets of those people who were directly involved in the creation of the products I take such enjoyment from - writers and publishers - than some monolithic monopoly gets richer still off of my hard-earned.

Now let it be said, I've never been a great supporter of Amazon, even before all the e-book fuss. For me, Amazon has been, virtually from day one, a convenience; nothing more. Someone gifted me a Prime membership and the prices for books old and new have always been very reasonable, so sure, I've bought from them often in recent years, but I've never felt good about it. In fact, every time I've seen a local bookstore shutter its doors for the last time, I've felt positively awful about the fact I've patronised the terrible Amazon machine rather than help out the friendly human alternative.

And then came the Macmillan kerfuffle. Which, suffice it to say, rather rubbed me up the wrong way - and I know I'm not alone in that. So it's been on my mind to do something about the links I include in each of the book reviews I post here on TSS. I'm not going to go so far as to remove them, but from here on out, expect links to IndieBound alongside every URL leading to Amazon in the UK or the States.

But that's not quite that, because I love the idea behind IndieBound, and given the UK and particularly the Scottish focus of this site, I'd be overjoyed to be able to include one other link with each review: a link to some British or European alternative to IndieBound, which I'm given to understand operates only in the US.

What shall it be?

Ultimately, you see, all these links are for you, readers, and for the locals amongst you, if you've got a favourite place to buy your books online, you need to fill me in, and quick smart. Waterstones is the closest thing I have to an idea, but there's got to be something better... right?

So. I'm opening up the floor for suggestions. Make your pitch. I'm all ears.


  1. I believe the canonical suggestion is The Book Depository.

  2. The Book Depository is great, but is also pretty good.

    To be honest I'm not that annoyed with Amazon. It's their business and they can choose how to run it, plus they provide decent prices and a great inventory. I find books there I can't find anywhere else.

  3. I agree with the Book Depository, especially as it includes links to abebooks in its searches anyway.

    However, I still pretty much exclusively shop at amazon, as the prices cannot be beat, the delivery is prompt and the customer service has been really good too. Although, I am planning on using the book depository a bit more, as it does occasionally beat amazon, even if it is only by 1p, as seems to be the case for a lot of books.

  4. For importing books to Australia (and to pretty much the rest of the globe), you can't go past which (for me at least) is cheaper than (not that I can work out why).

  5. I'm adding a third vote for The Book Depository, largely because their book prices match those of any other online bookseller, with free international shipping included. Plus, they often offer special prices on preordered books. I just bought a couple of books that are coming out next week for $5.25 each.

  6. For upcoming releases Book Depository is often cheaper than amazon, and the shipping's free (though it takes a fair bit longer, in general).

  7. Amazon lost me with this whole ebook thing (though I do still use there used book store from time to time). They had been on thin ice for while and that was it.

    So, now I use links to Indiebound, Book Depository, and Powell's Books. I still haven't found the time to go back a remove all the old Amazon links (and I may never), but I won't add any new links to them. It's a shame really, they are convinient and their prices good, I just can't support their business practices.

  8. I've been using the bookdepository ever since that damned e-book debacle. They're great ( though I so prefer book shops) Thanks for highlighting this!

    (ps - too embarrassed to comment in the article that has my book in it, but thanks so much for the mention! I will block my ears and close my eyes and run past the review when and if it ever comes so do not worry about being honest honest honest)

  9. Thank you so much! When I sent the e-mails out I was in the process of switching my wishlist over from Amazon to IndieBound. I tend to shop locally anyway, but I LOVE online wishlists because I can easily keep track of books I've noted and then share the list with my family and friends. I only found two books that Amazon lists that IndieBound does not and they are out of print.

    I'm not 100% anti-Amazon. For out-of-print, hard to find and rare books I too will probably still buy from them. But putting my wishlist on IndieBound helps me encourage my family and friends to shop locally too.

    Thank you again. Happy reading!

    Kathleen N.K.

  10. I've bought hundreds of books from (and a bunch from and never had any problems. I buy from Bookdepository once and run into trouble when trying to return a damaged book. Sorry, but I don't care for the Macmillan kerfuffle and other company fights as long as offers me the customer service they do - and they get me books from the US and UK free of shipping as well.

  11. What a divisive topic this has turned out to be. Thanks again to Kathleen (Kaki) for spurring on such debate with her email.

    A little update: since posting this article, I've signed on the dotted line to join forces with the affiliate schemes offered by IndieBound and The Book Depository. IndieBound haven't yet got back to me to confirm my application, but the news as re: The Book Depository - certainly the overwhelming recommendation from those of you concerned enough to stop by and offer your opinions - is better. Starting today, each review will also feature links to The Book Depository. And just as soon as IndieBound get in touch, I'll wrap in links to that resource as well.

    I'll still be linking to Amazon UK and Amazon US as per usual - for all that their behaviour has offended many, they're still the choice of the vast majority - but all told, it's been something of a win for the little guys. Here's hoping the support of TSS helps even out the market some. I've got some crinkly shirts in my cupboard, but it ever anything need ironing out...

  12. Blogger ate my comment. I really wish there was an easier way to comment on things.