Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Amazon

We read a lot of posts by books lovers criticising Amazon. Is it disingenuous of me to write a post in their defence, just when my agent has negotiated a three book deal with them for a new series I am writing? Well, perhaps you might like to read to the end of my post and then draw your own conclusions. After all, that is one of the glories of reading, that we are free to do just that, read and make up our own minds.
    We read a lot about Amazon decimating our bookshop chain, Waterstones, just as Waterstones was previously accused of destroying independent bookshops. Part of the perceived problem with Amazon was the rise of ebooks. But let's examine this. Waterstones rushed to take a share in the market for kindles. That appeared short term at the time, but turned out to be a sound business decision. 
    It may be ironic that selling kindles helped the bookshop chain to survive, but to some extent 'supping with the devil,' as some characterised it, meant that Amazon played its part in helping to save the bookshops. I am not suggesting that Amazon's motivation was anything other than commercial, but it created a virtuous circle. And that, surely, is what we are witnessing in the book world today. The truth is that the advent of ebooks and ease of purchase online have resulted in more people reading more books. That can only benefit all book sellers, and that is largely thanks to Amazon. 
    I value bookshops and libraries. It is well known that I have campaigned vigorously to support both. But I cannot see why there should be a conflict between print book and ebooks, or physical stores and online book providers. I appreciate the fact that I can buy books online wherever I am, at any time of the day or night. That does not prevent me from going into bookshops, which I frequently do, and buying books there. Amazon has not put up barricades outside bookshops. On the contrary, with more people reading, if bookshops are canny and make their spaces reader friendly, they could be selling more books than ever before, as the community of book readers and book lovers grows. 
    There has never been a better time to be a reader, or a writer or, I think, a bookseller. 

9 comments:

Patricia Adams-Wright said...

I thoroughly agree. Surely the fact that people are reading, is the point. As an avid reader myself, I am amazed that I can see an advertisement for an interesting book in the middle of the night, and be reading it within minutes.
I think Kindles are a brilliant invention, but that doesn't stop me visiting bookshops, whenever I see one, or a library, where I can order one if necessary.
All options covered, as far as I'm concerned!

Leigh Russell said...

Glad you agree, Patricia, and thanks for commenting.

Gordon Brice said...

I love your article, Leigh and you are correct of course in all respects. Never has there been a better time for readers. The convenience and cheapness of ebooks has no doubt promoted the sales of books in that form, but the opportunity to visit libraries and bookshops, is still available to those whose preference it is, or are not able to go online. Of course, the quality of writing has also encouraged more people to read and we have you and others like you to thank for that.

Peter Snell said...

As a bookseller I have to say that you are wide of the mark. Times is hard. Waterstones and Amazon have destroyed the correct perception of the value of a book and some authors have been persuaded to sell their ebooks too cheaply, thus downvaluing their own efforts and their books. This further reinforces the perception of books as cheap.

Charles Gramlich said...

I certainly appreciate what Amazon has done for me. I understand how there can be criticisms, but I'd like to see some coexistence.

Leigh Russell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Leigh Russell said...

Cheap books can devalue books, Peter, but on the other hand if low prices encourage people to read more, surely that is a good thing? I do disagree with free books as in World Book Night.

Leigh Russell said...

Thanks for commenting, Gordon. As you say, we have the choice, which can only be a good thing.

Leigh Russell said...

I agree, Charles. Of all people, readers should be the most willing to coexist and be tolerant of others, or what have we learned from all our reading?