Amazon vs Local Bookshop • 14 December 2011 • The SnowBlog
Amazon vs Local Bookshop
So what do we think about this bête du jour of Amazon offering shoppers money to do their browsing in bookshops but their spending online? There was a New York Times editorial (here) about how it was wrong because independent bookshops are cuddly and wonderful like baby owls. And there was this counter-argument (here) saying that Amazon were stinkers for a completely different set of reasons but in many ways independent bookstores were much bigger stinkers. I'm not sure that latter article, though rationally presented, is going to do much more than cause hysteria.
I remember in the UK, Dixons trying something similar, where they suggested you do your browsing in John Lewis (though they employed a flurry of nudging and winking in place of naming them) but do your purchasing with Dixons. I seem to recall I was agin' it and powerfully so in that case because I really do think John Lewis are as cuddly as a baby owl (being owned by their employees and being principled to a preposterously high standard). Indie bookshops I'm less sure about. I like them and I don't want Amazon snapping them up like some sort of evil anteater on the rampage. But I do take the writer from Slate's point that if there's anything that Amazon does well it's to get people reading more books for less money.
OK, I think I'm now ready to render a verdict on this whole business, and it is: 'dunno'. I think I'll have to wave this particular scandal through without laying a glove on it because I'm not sure enough of my own views. But surely that won't stop you commenting types, will it?
update: I forgot to make it clear (in case you don't read the articles I've linked to) that the Amazon offer excluded books which is an important point. So this particular situation is about competing with bookstores on non-book sales (e.g. CDs) - although I think most people have seen it as symbolic or symptomatic of a larger battle and of various similar tactics.