From Melville House:
A heated discussion about the lowly book link has burned its way out of The Bookseller this week. Keith Smith, owner of Warwick Books and Kenilworth Books, wrote a post for that site calling out a handful of authors by name for linking toAmazon or toWaterstones from their sites rather than to indie bookstores.
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Two caveats: first, if you are an author self-publishing your own work exclusively on Amazon, none of the below applies to you. Thank you, goodnight.
Second, in the UK, the problem is a bit knottier than in the states. The American Booksellers Association provides its members with a basic ecommerce template to use on their sites. It is not the most graceful platform in the world (cue the laughter of 30,000 American booksellers), but it generally works. This is precisely what Smith is asking the UK’s Bookseller’s Association to do. To simplify things, let’s talk about the U.S., where most indies do sell books online.
For authors, the choice about where to link really is quite easy. There are incredible altruistic reasons that you might want to support an independent bookseller.
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You pick one store. Make it an indie. Maybe the one closest to your house. Make sure they have a website. Make sure your book is available on their website. Make sure the store is willing to ship books to customers. Link to your book through the store’s page. Tell the store you are doing this. If you have a big enough following and sales result, they will surely notice in a hurry anyhow. Even if not a single customer finds them through you, they will be happy. They will be happy with you.
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Amazon is so dominant that in most cases people looking to buy your book will navigate there first, not your site. Linking to it from your site does not effectively benefit you whatsoever, and barely benefits them. Linking to Amazon does not somehow put you on their good side. Bezos doesn’t even have a good side—that terrifying crazed laugh face wraps around the entirety of his fleshy cylindrical head. Maybe Amazon is a good friend to have—but unless you happen to be some kind of Attorney General with a dashing little mustache, you’ll never find out. They don’t care about you. Oh, and the affiliate program? You are hoping to get a kickback if people but things after getting to Amazon from your site? Yeah, indie booksellers have those, too.
Link to the rest at Melville House
Let’s see. I’m an author who lives in Tucumcari and I link to Tucumcari Books and Tackle from my website.
Of course, everybody knows there are neighborhoods on the web and all the people in Tucumcari spend almost all of their time in the Tucumcari web neighborhood checking out the latest news at Tucumcari High School, home of the Fighting Rattlers, and the city council meeting schedule. So most of the visitors to my author website will be within easy traveling distance of Tucumcari Books and Tackle and will go there to buy my books.
Anybody who lives in New York and, by mistake, wanders into the Tucumcari web neighborhood will, of course want to buy my books from Tucumcari Books and Tackle because TBT always stocks copies of all my books at prices far below the publisher’s list price and will ship anywhere in two days at no charge.
Ebooks? TBT has great iPhone and Android apps that let me download any ebook I want in seconds at really low prices, sometimes even free.
With no disrespect to either authors or independent book stores, if bookstores think links from author websites to local stores instead of Amazon are going to make a discernable difference in bookstore sales, they’ve lost any connection to reality. Ditto for publishers who think the same thing.
Amazon Derangement Syndrome strikes again.