British Library reinstates Amazon link

The British Library is reinstating its link to Amazon on online catalogue records, after briefly removing the feature last week in response to criticism from leading booksellers.

The link takes readers of the library's catalogue records directly to the sales page for each title on the Amazon.co.uk website. Waterstone's m.d. James Daunt heavily criticised the link in The Bookseller last Friday (14th October). He said: "It's disappointing to say the least that a very British institution is driving readers away from local libraries and high street bookshops." The link was removed from the library's catalogue records shortly afterwards.

In a statement issued today (18th October), the BL said the link had been removed "while results of the pilot [linking scheme] were discussed internally" but that it was being restored "because of its usefulness for library users seeking further information about collection items".

The library said the Amazon pilot was set up "with the aim of providing users with the choice of an alternative method of obtaining a title if, for some reason, it is not available in the Library's Reading Rooms. It also offered users a rich source of additional information for many titles (book jacket images, contents pages etc) that supplemented the data the Library itself was able to provide." The library added the link was "simple and inexpensive to implement".

In last week's statement, it said the link had been "provided as a pre-built generic link that comes out of the box with the Primo software supplied by ex-Libris, the search engine behind the library’s website that also powers its online integrated catalogue."