Why I Don’t Use Amazon Links in Reviews

Edit Post ‹ Bob on Books — WordPress com

Screenshot of editing page for my most recent review, showing weblink to publisher.

If you’ve clicked on a book title in one of my reviews, you will discover that in nearly all cases, it will take you to a publisher’s web page for the book. Some may wonder, why don’t I use an Amazon link?

I did at one time until a bookseller friend whose work I value greatly challenged me that I was helping to dig the grave of his business. Since I want to see him, and other brick and mortar booksellers stay in business, I paid attention. He pointed out that I was essentially endorsing Amazon as “my bookseller of choice” by directing traffic to their website.

I hadn’t thought about that. Amazon links to books almost always come up at the top of a search for a book, even when you enter a publisher name. I was using those links as a matter of convenience. It is more challenging to find publisher links to a book, particularly for backlist books. And there are books I review sometimes that are out of print. In this case, I use a link to ABE Books, which provides connections to a number of booksellers who have the book.

So here are the reasons I don’t link to Amazon:

  • Do you want one bookseller “to rule them all and in the darkness bind them?”
  • I want to leave the choice of where you buy your books, and the format in which you buy them, to you.
  • I want to support publishers, who often sell the books online, adding to their revenues at a time where they face great pressure.
  • Publishers often have helpful marketing information about their books–video trailers, readers guides, author information, and more.
  • I want to support local booksellers whose presence enriches our community. Most also have an online presence, allowing you to order books and have them shipped to you, or available to pick up at the store.
  • Some of you may want to get it at your local library. I don’t want Amazon to replace libraries, which provide so many services, particularly for those who are financially strapped.

Finally, because I write about books and bookselling, I do not want to have a financial relationship with Amazon as an Amazon Associate. Yes, I actually could make some pocket change if someone uses a link on my page to buy a book from Amazon. But I don’t want to for all the reasons above.

I’ve concluded that for all the convenience Amazon offers, we are sacrificing a rich, local culture, as well as the subtler delights of relationships with librarians, publishers, and booksellers, as well as the serendipitous delight of finding what you weren’t, as well as were, looking for on the shelves of a local book store. That is not something I want to lose.

 

10 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Use Amazon Links in Reviews

  1. Thank you for this clear, compelling explanation. I buy my books from my local, independent bookstore, a bricks and mortar establishment that does, I believe, good business. Usually I go in person as I like to browse around. Right now I am out of the country. I wanted to buy a copy of INDIAN SUMMER by Alex von Tunzelmann. A friend of mine will be visiting me soon and graciously agreed to have the book delivered to his house for him to carry to me. I live on a “fixed income,” (social security) and an occasional royalty check, so I have to watch the pennies. Buying on Amazon the book was $7 cheaper than buying through my local bookstore. Are we Luddites, clinging to an allegiance to a disappearing world? Are we sweeping back the sea? Bummer.

    • Joejamchicago, thanks for your comments. I did not want to say in my post where people should buy their books, though I am willing to pay a bit extra to support good brick and mortar booksellers, who enrich our local communities. I’m also aware of the economic realities others face, or the absence of nearby stores, that makes Amazon the best choice for some. I simply do not want to tacitly endorse Amazon over other booksellers by linking to their website in my reviews. Luddites in a futile effort? Maybe, if it is just a few of us. I hope helping others be mindful about such choices might grow the tribe.

  2. Had I been in the country I have no doubt I would have gone to the bookstore and simply purchased a copy without having checked its price on Amazon. I would willingly pay a bit more. But $7???
    Not sure how or if this will change my buying habits. I have to think more about it. I would hate for there to be one restaurant in the nation: McDonald’s, one way to purchase books: Amazon, one computer outlet: Apple.

  3. I am a former online bookseller that predated Amazon’s appearance. Many of my bookseller friends have resorted to listing on Amazon because they sell the most books there if they don’t have an open store. I never listed with them, but when I retired I began to blog and I finally gave in and became an associate. Ten years ago I could have written a post very much like yours, but I currently don’t have another income source for my blogs. Very few publishers have affiliate programs, and Dover, which did, seems to have discontinued it. I’m afraid that most people are already trained to go to Amazon first for books and almost anything else these days. As an online bookseller I couldn’t compete on new books. I finally got tired of trying.

  4. Thank you for articulating your reasons for not using Amazon links in your reviews. I, too, make an effort to direct readers of my blog to author and publisher websites as often as possible; as well as to other excellent blog posts and articles that may not get as much traffic as big-name journalism blogs and outlets.

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