rubicon or windmill?

note: cross-posted from tumblr.

a smart friend asked me today, “what if you read and loved a book, and you wanted to recommend it to people, maybe talk about it on bookrageous, but it was published by Amazon?”

this is an excellent question, one to which i don’t have an answer. what would i do?

it’s bound to happen sooner or later. i can’t just refuse to read all books published by Amazon. (well, i could. i guess that would be the first line of defense — can’t like it if i haven’t read it!)

the party line at the store is that we’ll special order Amazon-published titles people ask for (assuming they’re available from distributors we already work with), but we’re not going to include them in general orders. might this change some day? i can’t imagine the circumstances in which it would, but i suppose stranger things have happened… but really, you guys. probably not.

ok, so that’s work taken care of. but i am a person outside of work (NO REALLY I SWEAR) and am involved with various other book projects and talk about books all kinds of places. will i never, ever, ever publicly mention an Amazon-published book, the same way i pretty much never, ever, ever publicly mention books i didn’t like?

i don’t know. it seems so unfair to the authors! if you’ve written an excellent book, and for whatever reason your best publishing option was with a company that has an incredible web presence and distribution (albeit also with a name for being a bully and a monopoly-in-the-making), will i refuse to ever say a nice thing about your book, a book i enjoyed?

i think the heart of the matter is here: if i really, truly, honestly believe that Amazon is actively trying to put my chosen profession out of business, then it seems like consorting with the enemy to do anything that makes them more money.

here’s another angle: do i really, honestly, truly believe that oil consumption will be the eventual (and maybe not all that eventual) doom of the planet? absolutely. do i still ride in vehicles that consume oil? yep. weekly, if not daily. i am a hypocrite. we all are. it’s part of life.

but most of us also have a line that we won’t cross. for some of us, it’s clothing made in sweatshops. for others, it’s factory-raised meat, or cars made in foreign countries, or shows on FOX. sometimes, we pick a battle, and we fight it, acknowledging how inconvenient it is to our daily lives, how potentially unfair it is to those caught in the cross-fire, but soldiering on nonetheless.

is this my battle? is this my own personal Rubicon, or a windmill at which i am unnecessarily tilting? i don’t know. we won’t know if Amazon will really be able to put indie stores out of business and take over the whole supply chain (and potentially the acquiring and manufacturing as well, ALL THE LINKS OF ALL THE CHAINS), until they actually manage it (heaven forfend). so in the meantime, we (and i say “we” because i believe this is something all booksellers and bloggers are going to have to deal with) must decide how we want to behave, where the boundaries are, what is acceptable and what is not and how we can live in the world in a way that makes us feel good about our choices. i suspect the line will be different for all of us. when i figure out where mine is, i’ll let you know.

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rubicon or windmill?

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