New Amazon App Targets Bookstores

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Shoppers at a bookstore Shoppers at a bookstore (Jurgita Genyte/Shutterstock)

When it comes to sales, it's widely known that bookstores, particularly independent ones, face tough competition from online sellers such as Amazon. It looks like the battle lines just got tougher. With their new book app, Amazon is encouraging book store shoppers to scan titles they find intriguing, and see if they can get a better price online. The reward if you find a better price is the chance to earn five percent credit on purchases at Amazon, of course.

This has some people up in arms. Among them is author and screenwriter Richard Russo, who wrote an op-ed about it in The New York Times. Russo won a Pulitzer Prize in 2002 for his novel, "Empire Falls."

Guests:

Richard Russo

Comments [3]

Daniel Marcus from Montclair, NJ

Mr. Russo suggests we buy one book for every five at an Independent as a way of helping the local store and community. This suggests doing it for charitable reasons-which is all wrong. Stick with enlightened self-interest: The reason I shop at a local Independent (mine is Watchung Booksellers in Montclair) is for the service. I know the people there and they know me. Their stock isn't generated by a computerized list but from a sense of taste and interest and fun. They sell the best-sellers of course (they're not in it to go broke) but more importantly they stock books that they find worthwhile and so can share and sell to trusting and valued customers. When I ask them what they think of a book I can count on one of them having read (or reading) it; when I ask if it's worth getting they will quietly let me know if it isn't; and that opinion is far more reliable than an Amazon rating where it could be me shilling for my own book or trying to bring yours down. I'm not doing my local bookstore any favors-they get my money because I'm getting something of irreplaceable worth for it. A book is more than cardboard, paper and glue delivered in a cardboard box. It's an exchange of experience and ideas between humans. And that is value worth paying for.

Dec. 15 2011 05:34 PM

Now Amazon is just being counter productive. Instead of using independent bookstores as competitors they should see them as outreach centers. If this app works it can slowly kill many -not all- bookstores. Which will leave consumers with no place to go to find that "intriguing" book. How many books are sold, online and offline, based on the tactile experience readers have with those books? It's possible that with nothing to physically touch folks may just buy fewer books.

Note to libraries everywhere: now's the time to start a national online book-borrowing service. Like Blockbuster but free (minus the cost of a library card). How many will buy an e-book when they can just borrow one for a month or so?

Dec. 14 2011 11:16 AM
Gary Huntress from Swansea MA

There is no chance that I would actually find myself in a bookstore to use this app.

Dec. 14 2011 07:40 AM

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