Thoughtful Thursday: Favorite Change in the Book World

ThoughtfulThursday
Hosted by Pamela @ Reading is Fun Again

This Thursday’s question:

What is one of the best changes in the literary/book world that you have noticed, since you have begun reading? What makes this change so great for you?

Amazon.com. The biggest change for me in the last 15 years has been how I procure books. And it’s pretty much all because of Amazon.

Way back in my childhood, I had four ways of getting books: the library, Scholastic book flyers (and later my mom’s Science Fiction Book Club catalog), Waldenbooks at the mall, and the book section of Star Realm, a comic/gaming/SF hobby shop. None of these avenues were particularly expansive. I didn’t start frequenting used bookstores until late in high school when I started keeping a list of books I wanted to read. This list was gleaned from author bios and articles I’d read in magazine and Who’s Whos. My mom never cared for owning used books and had a poor opinion of fantasy and romances. Our nearby buy-sell-trade store was 90% those two genres, so they never got much of her business or mine. Moving from Omaha to Lincoln for college was the first big change. Lincoln had a Barnes and Noble. It was the size of  five Waldens. Downtown Lincoln also had three major used bookstores and two university bookstores.  This was not only more books than I had ever imagined and a totally different selection of books. I realized there was value in going to book store in other places. As late as the early 2000s, I always insisted in stopping at local bookstores when Eric and I traveled.

Then Amazon.com happened. Suddenly, any book I’d ever wanted to read was available to me if it was in print. When they started hooking up with used sellers, that circle grew larger. That book of poetry collected by T. E. Lawrence that I loved in college? Available. My Harlan Ellison, Helene Hanff, Shirley Jackson, and Richard Laymon collections? If they’re not complete, it’s only because I can’t afford those books at the moment. I know that Amazon wasn’t the first into the ebook/ereader market and has certainly not been the only one, but they proved that ebooks and ereaders can be a market. Where Amazon has paved, others have followed. Now, I use Paperback Swap to find books as well. I frequent elibraries more than physical ones. I’m publishing my own books through Amazon and Smashwords.

I know there are downsides to Amazon. Brick and mortar stores can’t compete; the market is flooded with  works of variable quality. There’s drama, drama, drama when it comes to rating and reviewing. But, man, all the books…!

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2 thoughts on “Thoughtful Thursday: Favorite Change in the Book World

  1. For all the hatred and distrust of Amazon, they’ve done some wonderful things, particularly opening up a huge number of titles to anyone with a computer and a credit card. As someone who lives half-an-hour from the nearest city, bookstore, and shopping in general, Amazon has been a godsend.

  2. I won’t buy from Amazon if I can help it, and I usually can. The way they treat their workers was the last straw as far as I’m concerned.

    But you’re right about on-line bookstores opening up the world for so many readers. I have to go to the next town to visit a bookstore where I live, but I know other people have to travel much further. In part, that’s actually because of on-line bookstores, you know.

    Whatever the cause and effect relationship, on-line selling has been a major change as far as the bookworld goes, for better or worse.

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