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.