How do they get away with this?

I’m just gonna put this right out there: I don’t really much care for Amazon.com.

Yes, I’ve bought things from their website—loads of things, over the years. Books, even. If I sat down and added up the amount of money I’ve spent at Amazon over the past decade or so, I’d probably have a heart attack and die, so I’m not going to do that.

And they’ve done things to piss me off in the past. Remember that whole thing about them censoring queer titles from book searches? Yeah, things like that. Lately, though, I’ve been reading about a few really jackass maneuvers the company has made that they don’t feel they need to explain or correct (although apparently a little bad publicity has caused them to restore the Norwegian woman’s Kindle account, according to BoingBoing). From a public relations standpoint, they are not doing themselves any favors. From a digital rights perspective, they look like they’re abusing their privileges at best, and thieves at worst.

I haven’t bought a book from Amazon in I don’t know how long. The censorship issue was pretty much the nail in the coffin for me as far as they’re concerned.

When you go to the bookstore and buy a book, it’s yours, that physical artifact. You can read it, lend it, write in the margins, put it under a dodgy table leg, however you like. No, you don’t own the words as if you’d written them yourself, but the bookstore isn’t going to come knocking on your door one day and try to take it back. And yet Amazon had no problem doing just that. No warning, no refund.

I can’t tell you where you should shop for e-books any more than I can tell you that I think you’re better off with paper books instead. (Besides, I have a Kobo, so it’s not like I haven’t read several e-books—usually slowly and painfully, but I’ve read them all the same. I also check out e-books from the library using OverDrive on an iPod.) I just think you’re better off if you buy them somewhere other than Amazon.

So, where do you buy your e-books? Do you worry about this sort of thing happening to your library?

3 thoughts on “How do they get away with this?

  1. For my Nook, I buy directly from Barnes & Noble, but I also buy books that are available through Google Books using Murder By The Books’ website–trying to support my local, independent bookstore while taking advantage of being able to buy more titles because of not having to use physical space for them. I’ve bought many more titles since getting the Nook than I’d have otherwise purchased because of the space and lower cost factors, and I know the writers get royalties.

    I do worry about Amazon’s actions and whether B&N might do the same, and I also worry that all the music I’ve bought electronically could vanish, as well.

    My feelings about Amazon are conflicted because while they sell books I’ve written, their aggressive anti-brick-and-mortar tactics have been disheartening, as have workers’ conditions in their warehouses for other merchandise they sell.

    I understand your concerns.

    • Same here. They carry books I’m in as well — and one book I’m in that you co-edited! 🙂 — but even so….

      My own book-buying habits have changed, though not because of the e-reader. (To be honest, I haven’t turned it on in a few months.) My habits have changed because I went back to school and discovered how much libraries are my friend. Up until then, most of the books I bought were still paper. I only found myself buying e-books if I wanted one right away. More likely, I checked it out from the library on Overdrive and read it on my iPod.

  2. I don’t buy e-books, but I buy audio books. I’ve started buying them directly from Audible. I like this arrangement because it is easy to download and play through iTunes, but the audio books are always there in my Audible Library online. If iTunes/Mac decides to be a jerk, I have the back-up.

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