January 22, 2004

A Question

Because I often review books that are out-of-print, I've never worried about linking to Amazon.com or the like; but I begin to wonder. Would it make my reviews more useful if I provided on-line bookstore links?

If you've got an opinion, add a comment!

Posted by Will Duquette at January 22, 2004 08:27 PM

Ron said:

You know, to be honest, I never made more than a couple bucks a year when I was an Amazon associate, and that was with an audience of roughly 15,000 unique visitors a month, so I always assumed that either the clickthrough just wasn't happening or that my audience for some ungodly reason wasn't buying from Amazon.

Now that I'm with Booksense, because I wanted to throw my lot in with the indie booksellers, I actually haven't made a single sale that I know of, so I have no idea what the heck's going on. (And, I guess, that loses me the option of listing very many OOP books, though if they're old enough, I'll often link through Gutenberg...)

Deb said:

FWIW, I almost never go to Amazon unless I either cant find it anywhere or dont have time to stop in at the local small bookstore and have the owner order if for me.

Phil said:

I think such links are helpful for better identifying the book. If you can't find most of your books on Amazon, which is suprising, have you tried Alibris.com?

Deb said:

Phil,
What I meant was that I cant find it in a real live bookstore, including two topnotch used bookstores in town. For some reason buying books on line feels wrong. It's me; I dont like buying fresh veggies that I cant sniff either.

Will Duquette said:

I'm not so much interested in the Amazon Associates thing, actually; I'm with Deb, I prefer to buy books at a real store--it's the thrill of the hunt, don't you know.

It was more a question of providing additional information for our readers.

A related question--lots of book blogs use a thumbnail of the book cover as the link. I've never done that, either, partially because the copyright issue concerns me, partially because scanning book covers isn't my favorite activity, and mostly because it makes pages download much more slowly. "Content-heavy and image-light" has always been my motto. But that's less of an issue than it used to be.

So if I did link to some source of on-line publication data, be it Amazon or not, would book covers be a pleasant addition, or a distraction?

Ian said:

Perhaps you could use the Internet Book Database you linked some time back? I mean, linking to some further info is a great idea, whether it be Amazon, Powells.com, or otherwise, just so that people can look up copyright/publication dates, edition info, etc.

As to the images, I would say no. After all, 'tis only one edition's cover. Let the link cover it.

(Charge: $0.02. ;)

Phil said:

Deb, I understand. I didn't mean my comment to be a reply to you. When I wrote, "If you can't find," I meant to address Will, thinking that he had looked in Amazon for out-of-print books to no avail.

Will, I think linking to a book distributor, database, or publisher is extra info without a thumbnail. If you are selling or promoting a book, you may want to add a thumbnail; but for reviews, articles, and casual references, a link is great.

Have you seen the reading list on Jared Wilson's blog? It has thumbnails which are attractive, but unneeded.

Will Duquette said:

I had, but I just went back and looked again. The thumbnails are doubly unneeded, as they are two small to read (except for the title) and they don't link to anything.

Anyway, the consensus is clear enough--the publication info might be interesting, but images are unnecessary. That suits me fine.

Ian, thanks for the Internet Book List reminder; I'd forgotten all about it.

Ian said:

Will,

Even though it looks like the decision is clear, I also had a thought regarding copyright: don't worry about it. You aren't making a profit here, and even if you were, it's free advertising for the publishers' books.

Will Duquette said:

Ian,

Copyright was a historical reason--just like bandwidth. When I first started writing reviews on-line, there weren't that many people doing it, and I didn't notice many sites with bookcovers. These days it's everywhere; even if it is copyright violation I wouldn't expect to ever be prosecuted.

As it turns out, it doesn't matter.