News

Godfray asks BL to "review" Amazon link

Tim Godfray, chief executive of the Booksellers Association, has asked British Library c.e.o. Dame Lynne Brindley to review the Library’s relationship with Amazon “as a matter of urgency”, following the furore over links to Amazon.co.uk on records in its online catalogue.

Booksellers have challenged the British Library’s choice to link to the online retailer exclusively. The British Library took down the links on Friday (14th October) as a result of the criticism, but this week announced its intention to reinstate them.

Godfray said: “We believe very strongly that the British Library should be opening channels for all book retailers to benefit from the opportunities offered by the British Library and I have written to Dame Lynne to request that she reviews the relationship with Amazon within that context as a matter of urgency”.

Johnny de Falbe of John Sandoe bookshop said: “The British Library says it is ‘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’. But users have always had an alternative method: it is called going to a bookshop. Are the British Library’s directors unaware that Britain has a great many very good bookshops? If so, they should discover them and learn what booksellers do besides simply taking money for products. If not, do they think everyone else attaches so little value to a diversity of bookshops and booksellers?”

De Falbe said the British Library was “ignoring the whole UK book trade in favour of Amazon” and added: “I had always fondly supposed that the British Library, of all people/institutions, would support British bookshops. Although the British Library has many private donors, it is primarily supported by public funds. Amazon is not a public information service: it is an aggressively competitive retailer. In effect, the taxes paid by UK booksellers are being used for the promotion of a single competitor, whose interests are in direct conflict.”

Blog: A heavy price

Comments: Scroll down for the latest comments and to have your say

By posting on this website you agree to the Bookseller comments policy. Comments go direct to live please be relevant, brief and definitely not abusive. Report any "unsuitable comments by clicking the links"

Can't believe that they haven't managed to propose an alternative link! So what is their alternative? What about a link to something like abebooks.co.uk which is an aggregator or UK booksellers?

I'm guessing what they have in mind is a web page that says "You idol fool! Get out of your house and march down to your local book shop!" Of course, the local bookshop won't actually have the book that you're looking for. Yet again UK booksellers are campaigning to make it harder and more expensive for their "customers" (so to be somebody else's customers) to buy books.

They are doomed.

Perhaps you are unaware that Amazon also owns Abebooks.

The British Library Integrated Catalogue should have no links to any commercial bookseller or any trade association : the catalogue is unique and should remain *the* bibliographical reference.

I am reading this from Australia where I work in a bookshop and use BL data and I have to agree that it seems inappropriate for BL to link only to Amazon even when they do not have the book. Surely it would be much more sensible to display a list of links to on-line retailers as long as they actually had the item in stock or a link to none if it was not available anywhere. We have a site in Aus (Booko.com.au) that does exactly that.

I didn't know that Amazon owned abebooks. I *have* pointed poor benighted people to abebooks while in a bookshop having watched them receive appalling off-hand service.

I agree with Al - the idea that the BL shouldn't link to the resources if they are available online is daft (as is the BL linking to Amazon if they don't have a book).

Can't you see that campaigning to make it harder to buy or find books will just speed your demise?

Were IndieBound in this country a transactional website as it is the US where customers can shop by postcode (rather than a downloadable poster and paper bag, admirable though they are) then this complaint might have some legs. Perhaps various publishers who profess their undying love for the indie could show their support and help fund it?

In the light of this debate, these comments from a US librarian about Kindle library lending are very interesting. http://librarianinblack.net/librarianinblack/2011/10/wegotscrewed.html

In the light of this debate, these comments from a US librarian about Kindle library lending are very interesting. http://librarianinblack.net/librarianinblack/2011/10/wegotscrewed.html

Benedicte is on the button here. This blog by the Librarian in Black is getting huge viral interest. In an industry plagued by American corporate lawyers this is really refreshing as it states what most public librarians are afraid of, just in a far more articulate way than their UK counterparts. The whole set up seems anti-competitive and puts public data in the hands of a huge commercial enterprise. There is no public good that can come of this unholy relationship. Force Amazon to make their old technology available to all library suppliers and you solve most of the problems. But who can force Amazon to do anything? Libraries not using them is a start. As the LIB asks, it's a call to action.

The link to amazon has now been re-instated on the British Library Integrated Catalogue page returns ; it will be interesting to hear the comments and reaction from the antiquarian and secondhand booktrade which is the sector most affected by this development.

Just wondering if there have been any developments or a response to Tim's letter...?

Can't believe that they haven't managed to propose an alternative link! So what is their alternative? What about a link to something like abebooks.co.uk which is an aggregator or UK booksellers?

I'm guessing what they have in mind is a web page that says "You idol fool! Get out of your house and march down to your local book shop!" Of course, the local bookshop won't actually have the book that you're looking for. Yet again UK booksellers are campaigning to make it harder and more expensive for their "customers" (so to be somebody else's customers) to buy books.

They are doomed.

Perhaps you are unaware that Amazon also owns Abebooks.

The British Library Integrated Catalogue should have no links to any commercial bookseller or any trade association : the catalogue is unique and should remain *the* bibliographical reference.

I am reading this from Australia where I work in a bookshop and use BL data and I have to agree that it seems inappropriate for BL to link only to Amazon even when they do not have the book. Surely it would be much more sensible to display a list of links to on-line retailers as long as they actually had the item in stock or a link to none if it was not available anywhere. We have a site in Aus (Booko.com.au) that does exactly that.

I didn't know that Amazon owned abebooks. I *have* pointed poor benighted people to abebooks while in a bookshop having watched them receive appalling off-hand service.

I agree with Al - the idea that the BL shouldn't link to the resources if they are available online is daft (as is the BL linking to Amazon if they don't have a book).

Can't you see that campaigning to make it harder to buy or find books will just speed your demise?

Were IndieBound in this country a transactional website as it is the US where customers can shop by postcode (rather than a downloadable poster and paper bag, admirable though they are) then this complaint might have some legs. Perhaps various publishers who profess their undying love for the indie could show their support and help fund it?

In the light of this debate, these comments from a US librarian about Kindle library lending are very interesting. http://librarianinblack.net/librarianinblack/2011/10/wegotscrewed.html

In the light of this debate, these comments from a US librarian about Kindle library lending are very interesting. http://librarianinblack.net/librarianinblack/2011/10/wegotscrewed.html

Benedicte is on the button here. This blog by the Librarian in Black is getting huge viral interest. In an industry plagued by American corporate lawyers this is really refreshing as it states what most public librarians are afraid of, just in a far more articulate way than their UK counterparts. The whole set up seems anti-competitive and puts public data in the hands of a huge commercial enterprise. There is no public good that can come of this unholy relationship. Force Amazon to make their old technology available to all library suppliers and you solve most of the problems. But who can force Amazon to do anything? Libraries not using them is a start. As the LIB asks, it's a call to action.

The link to amazon has now been re-instated on the British Library Integrated Catalogue page returns ; it will be interesting to hear the comments and reaction from the antiquarian and secondhand booktrade which is the sector most affected by this development.

Just wondering if there have been any developments or a response to Tim's letter...?