The Tale of the Angry Bookseller

tony and maria singing from west side story

Somewhere, there’s a place where authors, readers, Amazon, and independent bookstores can live together in peace and harmony. That place just isn’t The Bookseller.

Once upon a time there was an independent bookseller who got very angry. While stalking looking at his favorite authors’ websites, he couldn’t help but notice that they all included buy links to major retailers like Yet where were the links to buy at HIS bookshop? Sure, authors say they support indie booksellers in theory, but in practice these authors were using their own websites to send people to other websites that sold their books to every place on earth. Madness! It was like some sort of internet conspiracy.


the internet, just another way to find rejection


So the independent bookseller did what any self-respecting modern would do: he wrote an angry letter. Actually it was an editorial in the The Bookseller, but same difference. Ignoring the fact that the authors likely did not even know of his bookshops’ existence, he demanded that they not only link to independent bookstores but remove all links to Amazon. An Amazon link on a book-related website is like a cookie you give to a mouse—a gateway to book gluttony that steals revenue from the mouths of independent booksellers. FROM THEIR MOUTHS. This is war, people: you either support Amazon or you support independents. Pick a side!


what does that even mean?


But wait, said no one (at least not according to The Bookseller), isn’t it a bookstore’s job to sell books and not an author’s job to sell bookstores? Sure, Amazon may be an evil behemoth that doesn’t pay taxes, but at least they’re not sending out desperate letters begging for pity purchases. Ask yourself, are you running a charity or a business? Because Amazon is most definitely running a business, one that’s not only inherently built to sell a greater volume of books than an independent shop, but also one that’s innovating the industry. Did they not include lessons on the meaning of competition in book selling school?


Have a tissue.


Instead, the authors very considerately panicked and immediately assured The Bookseller that they would be happy to include links to independent bookstores, if only they knew how and whereof! For the past three hundred years, you see, authors had been completely ignored by bookstores as a source of revenue. Now they were caught in a West Side Story-esque turf war between Amazon and independent bookstores, and like Maria they wished everyone could just get along so readers could make sweet sweet love to their books, no matter where they bought them. Instead, the angry bookseller was demanding they kill Riff to prove their loyalty, even though he’s Tony’s best friend.


fight! west side story


Realizing this metaphor was becoming tortured, the authors chose to ignore the angry bookseller’s demand that they remove Amazon links from their site, and promised to be more proactive about supporting independent booksellers, linking to any who contacted them. All except for Patrick Ness, who had wisely removed himself from the country until the dust settled. The bookseller continued to be frustrated and the authors continued to sell books, but everyone was more or less happy, especially the readers who enjoyed buying books from BOTH the internet and bookshops.


don't cry, bookshop girl


And everyone chilled the heck out.


groovy dancing west side story


The end.


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