How should we link to books?

Most people, when they mention a book and want to link to something about that book, link to Amazon. It’s easy and it’s become the norm.

But I don’t like it. Neither, unsurprisingly, does Dave from How to Furnish a Room.  I’ve noticed he links to Powells web site, which is cunning. People can read about the book, but Powells (US based) does not compete with the Words Worth behemoth. Linking to Amazon has made the Amazon page the canonical page for many books and encourages us all to think "buy book, go to Amazon" and if we all do that then where do we browse in the real world? What’s an independent bookstore aficionado to do?

But what’s the alternative? Linking to Powells solves the competition problem, but it’s clearly a bit of a slapdash fix. Usually I try to link to the publisher’s site for a book, but that can take a bit of work to locate in some cases or in the case of older, out of print books. I’ve heard there are networks of independent bookstores that provide something similar, but I’ve not found it yet.

Good ideas – hell, any ideas – welcome.

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  1. I think it’s because so many people are in their affiliate program. I wonder if, or powells have similar programs.
    Alibris carries a lot of out of print books and has some really good prices. There’s another site that I am having a hard time recalling.
    Also recall that although amazon is a behemoth, they do work with used bookstores and link to their inventories. My first recourse on amazon is typically to buy used, and thus I am often buying from obscure little shops in obscure locales via amazon.

  2. apparentLy i am a deep-down consumerist, as i have never thought about this, and wouLd LikeLy use amazon for this myseLf.
    for some reason i was Looking for the pubLisher’s website for a book Last week, and i do feeL your pain!
    i don’t think i have any decent ideas for soLving your probLem though, short of starting a book wiki; most of the good pLaces to Look are going to be cLosed databases systems, used by Libraries and such.

  3. How about For example, here’s their page on Catch 22:

  4. I like the librarything idea. I’m a regular librarything user (see “my library” link on the right), but hadn’t thought of using it that way.
    And I hadn’t thought about the Amazon/obscure programs. Makes me feel better when I’m feeling lazy.

  5. Hi Tom,
    Thanks for the shoutout. I link to Powells because it does the same job as Amazon, but didn’t give a bunch of money -see link-
    to Bush during the ’04 elections. It looks to have evened out now but when the chips were down they made a clear choice.
    Obviously most independents don’t care to link to Amazon, but that just pissed me off bookseller or not. The only thing dumber than paying for Michael Moore is paying for him from Amazon.
    So for now, Powells for American stuff, McNally Robinson for Canadians.
    There is an independent network coming into the arena soonish, and I’m fairly sure Words Worth will be a part of it.
    Perhaps early 2008?
    For now, slapdash.

  6. offers book buyers full search capabilities and the ability to order from over 250 independent bookstores in the country. Book orders can be shipped to your home or work or picked up at the bookstore (no shipping charges then). Authors can also link to and join it affiliate program.

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