The British Library has been under harsh criticism by booksellers recently for Amazon.com’s presence in its online catalogue.
The catalogue, which lists over 13 million items in the library’s collection, has links to buy the book titles from Amazon next to the library listings.
The British Library claims that they were trying the Amazon links preliminarily as a way to give their users another option to get the books if for some reason it was not available in at the library system.
The library also stresses that it is receiving no proceeds from Amazon sales that occur as a result of its online catalogue.
Booksellers across the UK are expressing anger and betrayal that the British Library is choosing to give its support to a large and “aggressive” commercial organisation such as Amazon.
Many feel the Library should be encouraging its patrons to visit independent bookstores for their purchases.
Amazon has long been criticised for its aggressive price undercutting strategies, which give the online retail giant a ruthless reputation.
The library says that the links are currently only in a trial run, as they are built in to the search engine software that they use.
High street under pressure
The British Library row over Amazon comes after the Booksellers Association released the shocking figures that more than 800 bookshops have closed in the past five years. Of those, nearly half were independent bookselling outlets, which the library’s critics are trying to preserve.
Many celebrity writers are joining in on the cause to save the struggling independent bookselling industry and urging readers to choose Hive when they buy books. Hive is a website which gives a cut of each sale to local and independent bookshops.
Some booksellers, however, say that even Hive adds only marginal profits to their sales figures.