01 February 2010

Alternatives to Associating with Amazon

Every time Amazon flexes its muscle to reveal just how powerful its monopoly is (cf. the latest brouhaha), I grow a bit more uncomfortable making all the book title links on this blog ones that go to Amazon and, through their Associates program, send back some spare change to me.  I mean, I know I'm immoral for using Amazon so much, but I've already admitted to being a pox upon the bookselling body in general.  In most of my choices as a consumer, I'm a pox upon the entire world, a blight of bourgeois indifference, a hemmorhoid on the......  Well, you get the idea.

But what about you?  Why should Amazon be the only choice you have when following a link to find out more information about a book, and possibly to order a copy for yourself?  Why should I force you to be the same sort of immoral pox-blight-hemmorhoid as I?

I've stuck with the Amazon Associates program for, as I said on David Moles's blog, reasons of inertia and of not knowing of another website that was as comprehensive and useful.  (Amazon even has a widget that works with Blogger and adds Associates links quickly and easily -- it's like crack!)  I'd love to use IndieBound, but they don't offer much information on their book pages and, as David points out, good luck trying to do anything with their site if you're not in the U.S.  Powells has interesting content and some good information, but they're a bit limited in their stock because they're actual stores.  Abebooks is great for used books (it's where I check first for used books these days, because the prices often are less than used books at Amazon and the booksellers tend to be a little bit better at describing the actual conditions of the books they're selling).*

On David's blog, I suggested The Book Depository as a possible alternative, since it offers free worldwide shipping, and then saw Cheryl had had some similar thoughts and was asking publishers, especially, for feedback on their experiences.  I've used TBD to order books from the UK and have been thrilled with their service, and they also have links for lots of American editions.  I may switch over to a combination of them and Abebooks (because I do sometimes reference out of print titles, and good as TBD is, you can't order Crybaby of the Western World from them).

Or maybe I'll just mix it up more ... sometimes using Amazon, sometimes others.  That allows more of an international approach, too.  Anybody have any preferences?  I know a few of you occasionally order books through the links here (and other people order stuff like household appliances, which I'm really grateful for, because I get far more money back when you order an $800 widget than I do when you order a $10 book!)  For me what matters is that wherever the links go, they provide information -- my primary goal here is not to sell you books, but to give you information and opinions about them.  It's nice if the links can occasionally provide some money, too, since I don't have ads on the site and do put a lot of time into it all, so a passive and unobtrusive form of fundraising seems like an okay thing to me, and I've never minded such links on other people's sites.  But I don't know what blog readers other than myself think about all this, so I'm legitimately curious.

*Update 2/1: As noted in the comments, Amazon is buying AbeBooks, which also gives them a 40% share in LibraryThing.  So ... it was a good thought....