Wednesday, April 15, 2009 ruckus

So, I'm serious hepped up about this

I blogged about the difference between Amazon and indpendent bookstores over three years ago. Since then the independent bookstore I was talking about sort of folded and sort of got bought out. I hate to admit that, now that I don't know anyone who works there, I visit much less frequently, and I get most of my books at the library anyway.

But all the uproar, or most of it, as far as I've seen, so far has been about what choices we want Amazon to make about censorship and who reads what and what gets promoted. Sometimes criticism will touch on the fact that it really matters what Amazon lets us read (well, find, they're not policing used bookstores or anything, isn't that a relief?) because they're huge, and so many people never look anywhere else for a book.

If it's not on Amazon, it doesn't exist, right? So it's really important that Amazon doesn't begin to randomly diss major subsets of the population.

But how/when/why did we come to accept that it's just fine that if it's not on Amazon, it doesn't exist?

That's SCARY people!

And I know, that's not exactly a catch phrase, but it is very true for publishers and authors- the ex mentioned in the three year old post above used Amazon rather than "books in print" for preliminary searches on customer requests (to find out if it's in print, the ISBN, the publisher, whatever)

And, she told me once (and this is old, second-hand hearsay, so don't sue me, Amazon, I acknowledge it) that they (independent Amazon bookstore) called a vendor (a small regional press, I think) whom they had somehow neglected to pay for six months because they felt just awful about it, and the person she got there informed her that they'd just assumed that it wouldn't get paid cause they thought it was and not the independent Amazon. They "sell" (or give) books to Amazon because no one would know that they exist if they didn't. (I assume they do pay some of their vendors)

It seems like something people can't even wrap their brains around, somehow. I came across this great bookstore blog about it, but the comments all go back to, "well, it was a hacker, it's not their fault" - or someone else who's had independent bookstores refuse to order books with gay themes for him (so independents aren't any better, as if that's a competing chain) or whatever.

I don't even CARE (much) if it was a hacker - the point is, even if Amazon is completely "pure" by whatever standards I could dream up (and it will never be) - diversity is essential.

Potatoes were GREAT food in Ireland, good producers, nutritious, everything you could want

Until they weren't

And there was nothing else to eat