This is an experiment, or a challenge if you will, to show that Amazon is dependent upon people linking directly to their buy-pages. I honestly think that the biggest convenience with shopping at Amazon is that you get a constant barrage of direct links to buy-pages. Consumers are fickle creatures, and I think that it will not take very long for them to get used to shopping elsewhere. And I have myself witnessed things online that make me think that quite a lot of people shop at Amazon out of laziness, and I think those people would be happy to shop anywhere as long as they get a direct link to a buy page.
First, I'll tell you what I have observed. The events that made me think that the buy-links put out there by readers, reviewers, and others are what gives Amazon its convenience.* I said I started thinking about this when Amazon bought Goodreads. Actually that was just the catalyst for thoughts that started some time earlier.
My first real experience with Amazon buy-buttons came in late 2010-early 2011. At that time quite a lot of people in the SFF blogosphere were removing their Amazon buy-links in favour of ones linking to The Book Depository. It seemed at the time to be a real popular movement, and it looked like it could make The Book Depository a real competitor to Amazon. That didn't happen of course, in July 2011 Amazon announced they were buying The Book Depository.**
Let's skip forwards about two years, to late 2012-early 2013.*** Goodreads had some disagreement with Amazon. As far as I could tell at the time it was about Amazon wanting them to be the first link showing up on the books's pages. Goodreads disagreed, and Amazon forced Goodreads to remove all data sourced from them.****Goodreads went on without Amazon being the first linked store on a book's pages. And then in April 2013 Goodreads announced that Amazon had bought them.*****
When it was announced that Goodreads had had a disagreement with Amazon, a lot of people on Goodreads where very happy they didn't back down when Amazon started making demands. There was however a quite vocal group that were pissed at Goodreads. This group were Amazon customers, mostly Kindle owners from what I saw.
Incredibly, some of them were complaining that they had to scroll down to find the Amazon link. And that is when the thought that had been forming in the back of my mind since Amazon bought The Book Depository leaped out: People find it easy to shop at Amazon because they get direct links.
Once I'd had that thought, I couldn't really help going to the next step: The loss of buy-links was part of Amazon's decision to buy both The Book Depository and Goodreads. I have absolutely no evidence for that though, and the only way to prove I am right is to remove all Amazon buy-links. Which is what I am suggesting.
Yes, you got it right, I want there to be no direct links to buy pages on Amazon. I suggest it now so everyone has time to remove them before 1 January 2015. And if people start removing the links now, and talking about why, I think most readers will be used to it come the New Year.
I am aware of how people think they are dependent on Amazon to sell books, but as said above, I think Amazon's convenience is its buy-links. I do not think the average reader who shops online will take long to adjust to links leading elsewhere. And as an extension of that, shopping for books elsewhere. There might be a small short-time loss, but I think it will be survivable for everyone. With the blow back Amazon's behavior is getting, it might even turn out that those who want to shop elsewhere if it is made easy by having links to other stores outnumber those that will only shop at Amazon. And let's face it, with tablets making dedicated e-readers more or less obsolete, few reader are really locked into Amazon's e-book format.
I'll end with making this challenge to everyone in the SFF community. Do not link directly to Amazon buy-pages in 2015. Link to other stores, or if you are an author/publisher to where the book is available to buy on your own site.
P.S You might notice that there are no buy-links at all on my blog. There is two reasons for that. The first is I want to be a neutral reporter, to have what is referred to as journalistic integrity. ****** Linking to a single store can be construed as "textual advertising" (, or whatever the English expression is), you are sending your readers to a market. At its most basic it is advertising.
The second is that to have buy-links and be neutral, you'd have to link to all sellers. One minute of thinking gave me ten online shops in Norway. How many thousand there is around the world I don't know, but more than enough that it is very impractical to link to them all.
* I will be focusing on books, since that is what I have been observing for the past six years online.
** I think that allowing that purchase to go through was a huge mistake by the regulatory authorities. Ideally they should make amends by forcing Amazon to sell it.
*** Sorry for not giving accurate dates on everything. I simply do not have the time to spend on as much research as I would like to do.
**** I am a Goodreads Librarian, and a call went out to manually add all the lost data. A lot of people put in a lot of work to do that. -Interestingly, most of my activity as a Goodreads Librarian was correcting erroneous information that people had gotten from Amazon...
***** Apparently the purchase of The Book Depository was announced on 4 July, while the Goodreads announcement cam 1 April. Not exactly dates you'd chose if you wanted attention to what you were saying.
****** My father just retired after being a journalist in Norway since before I was born. So I know how a journalist is supposed to behave. Granted, less and less journalists behave that way these days, but that's no excuse not to keep to those ideals.