Hyper About BookSense.com Links?
We received a range of letters in response to our story Tuesday about Rainy Day Books's policy
of not staging events for authors whose websites and e-mails have book
purchase links to Amazon.com but not BookSense.com as well as to the letter
on Wednesday from a publisher noting the low level of sales through her
BookSense.com link. Here is a sampling of views on the matter:
We independent booksellers understand that Amazon controls the Web. People click, money (some) rolls in. BookSense doesn't have a brand strong enough to compete.
But authors and publishers will likewise have to understand that we don't like this situation, and will push back in any way that we have available to us. That includes not scheduling events with authors and publishers who are actively trying to drive business to our competition. Let these authors schedule an appearance with Amazon if Amazon is their preferred vendor. While they're at it, they should ask Amazon to donate a gift certificate to their school's PTO, or buy raffle tickets from their kids, or do book talks in their schools, or . . . you get the drift.--Michael Herrmann, Gibson's Bookstore, Concord, N.H.
The reason that independent booksellers get so feisty about publishers and authors linking to Amazon or Barnes & Noble on their websites is because we are, in fact, well aware that the public is mostly unaware of BookSense and what it means and does. THAT is the reason we get upset when we see our business partners catering exclusively to our competition. I would think that it would be beneficial for a business not to alienate a broad sweep of its customer base in the name of simple lazy expedience.
I believe, though, we are in the midst of a paradigm shift in public sentiment. Buy Local Programs are sprouting in hundreds of communities, and the number of mainstream books blasting globalization and big corporations are on the rise. In light of this, it better serves all of your customers, both us and your readers, by more easily allowing them to make the more moral decision to buy local.
You say, "Put your energy into raising awareness rather than bludgeoning authors for 'non-compliance.' " I say that's exactly what we're doing.--Joe Foster, ordering manager at Maria's Bookshop, Durango, Colo.
I do not believe most of my colleagues object to having Amazon as a CHOICE to click when the consumer goes to buy a book. It is when it is the ONLY option that a very strong message is sent.
As far as I am concerned, the indy choice doesn't have to be Booksense.com (though ours is a Booksense.com website), even though it is a good option because it is a useful way to include hundreds of bookstores in a simple step. But just the effort to include ANY independent bookstore option is important--whether it be Powell's or the author's favorite local independent bookstore website. Many authors do this so it should not be difficult and allows the consumer the ability to make a choice.--Kerry Slattery, general manager, Skylight Books, Los Angeles, Calif.
Speaking as an author, I agree that many consumers do not recognize BookSense. What I have on my website for my most recent book (Company Towns of the Pacific Northwest, published by the University of Washington) is a list of the Northwest indies (with links) that have told me they keep the book in stock. This obviously would be difficult to manage for a title with national appeal. However, what I like about this strategy is (a) it gives me a reason to contact booksellers; and (b) when someone Googles the bookstore by name, the URL for my list of booksellers also comes up.--Linda Carlson