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EMPLOYEE1Hi there Leon,
This is an excellent question, and one that I hear very often. When I tell people that I work for an independent eBook retailer, the first response I get is usually, "Oh, cool." The second is, "Wait, I thought everyone shopped at Amazon?"
There are many different reasons to shop at BooksOnBoard instead of Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or another digital book behemoth. If you're the kind of person who shops at superstores for everything, including your groceries, then you probably couldn't care less about shopping at independent eBook retailers. But consider this: if everyone were to shop at a massive eBook retailer like Amazon, what would it mean for the future of publishing? Exclusive control of all eBook content would belong in the hands of the few. And what would happen to pricing if Amazon was the sole seller of eBooks?
There has been a lot of protest lately in regards to the SOPA and PIPA acts when it comes to regulation of the digital space; what would it mean for the digital book world if one website, be it Amazon or Barnes and Noble or any other massive eBook retailer, were to be entirely in control of the digital publishing world?
Amazon has made several very clear attempts to dominate the digital publishing sphere, including the recent launch of the Kindle Direct Publishing program. This program has lured a number of independent authors away from small publishers with a program that promises to do great things for authors as long as they agree to let Amazon become the sole retailer of their books, with no guarantee of actual book sales. And this is only my opinion, but if Amazon is as dominant as they say, why do they need this eBook exclusivity? That doesn't seem very pro-author to me, it seems pro-Amazon, and the attempt to completely own the eBook sphere alarms me; as can be seen in towns and cities all over the world, marketplaces lacking diversity of retailers also lack diversity of available goods.
In the eBook world, where prices are the same across the board, when you buy a book from an independent eBook retailer you send a message to publishers and authors-- and not just the big ones in New York. As in the real world, when you shop independently in the digital world, your money doesn't go straight into the pockets of a megacorporation, but instead goes towards sustaining the livelihoods of a number of small publishers and their authors, as well as the employees of said independent bookstore (like yours truly).
When you shop independent, You send a message about where you want to acquire content, about how many different places you'd like to be able to acquire content, and you protect diversity in the digital marketplace, safeguarding the number of shopping options you'll have in the future. Even if you don't give a flip about excellent customer service (which we have), programs rewarding shoppers with money back into their accounts (which we also have), and staff that's devoted to books and driven to keep the eBook world a rich and diverse place (as our staff is), you should at least consider what the landscape of the eBook world would look like if there were only one or two places you could buy books, and then decide if that's a world where you would want to live. Because that future, after all, isn't in the hands of BooksOnBoard and other independent retailers and publishers: it's in the hands of consumers, like you.
So we invite you to take the extra time and click around our website. Maybe you'll see something you like. Maybe you'll purchase a book, and the profits will go directly towards supporting independent authors, publishers, retailers, and their families. Or maybe you'll decide that it would just be easier to shop at a place like Barnes and Noble, and spend your money there, where it will go towards goodness-knows-what. Wherever you shop is up to you, after all. But just remember that the future of the eBook world is up to people like you, and that when you shop independent, you protect your choices, prices, and the diversity of content that you can find in the digital marketplace.
If you'd like to read more about the Amazon debate from people who are better-spoken and more qualified to talk about books than I am, please check out Richard Russo's article from the New York Times in December, where literary heavyweights like Stephen King, Ann Pachett, Scott Turrow, and more weigh in. You can find it here: