Amazon have recently announced their Source programme, which is designed to encourage independent bookshops to sell Kindle devices. Opinion is strongly decided over Source, with many booksellers calling Amazon Source a Trojan horse. But I’m not convinced.
First I need to say one thing: I am not an Amazon apologist. Yes, they’ve done great things. But there are too many indies blindly singing hosannas to the mighty Zon. Perhaps they’re scared their books will be pulled if they don’t or maybe they just love Amazon. I don’t know. But Amazon have made no secret of their desire to rule the world and they’ve stepped on little people to get to that goal. But, that being said, there are two reasons why I’m not sure this will devastate independent bookshops as much as some might think.
Ebooks don’t trump books
I got my first Kindle two years ago and I love it. It’s a fantastic little device and it’s worth it’s weight. Literally, because it saved my wrists from snapping under the weight of the Game of Thrones books. But I still buy tree-books. Quite a lot of them. And I’m not alone. I know only one Kindle owner who has entirely turned her back on tree-books and that’s only because she can’t physically lift them anymore.
Sure, an independent bookshop will want you to buy all your books in a physical format (despite the 10% commission Amazon will offer them on ebook sales). But a devoted reader is bound to pick up an ereader at some point. Why not have them do it at your own store? Which brings me to:
Service trumps price
There’s a comic shop in Norwich called Abstract Sprocket. It is, unsurprisingly, a little out of the way and it cannot compete with Amazon on price. Whilst I don’t buy comics anymore, I still buy graphic novels and collections. So where do I buy them?
At Abstract Sprocket. Because it’s a pleasure to shop there. The guys love their products, they recommend titles to me because they think I’ll like them, and they’re just fun to talk to. It costs more money to shop there, but it’s worth it. If an independent bookshop is a pleasure to visit, customers will keep coming back.
And I can guarantee they’d rather visit the bookshop that isn’t afraid to talk about and help them with ereaders and ebooks rather than the one that sneers at them and sprays them with holy water.
So am I saying independent bookshops should stock Kindles? I think I am. People want ereaders and ebooks. If the bookseller creates a welcoming environment and offers great recommendations, many customers will come back. And I’m pretty sure they’ll keep buying tree-books too.
Is the Kindle a Trojan horse or is it just another reading tool? Leave a comment and let me know what you think.