Every six months or so for the past several years, I've been doing a thread on Fedi about where to buy ebooks other than Amazon. It finally occurred to me that I could write it once, put it up on website, and update as needed, rather than constantly reinventing the wheel.
So, here we are. (And in spite of the title, this isn't JUST about eBooks)
(Please share your own links in replies, I'll add them to the list as I have spoons.)
@jessmahler What's the criteria threshold that makes Google a "not avoid" and Amazon/Walmart an "avoid?"
How do you vet the non-avoids to make sure they're not "avoids?"
Amazon is an 'avoid' because they treat authors like shit, are actively trying to create a publishing monopoly, and try to trap readers and authors into only using Amazon for their books.
Amazon also treats workers like shit, as well publicized lately.
B&N is an avoid bc of their shit treatment of readers (withholding access to already-paid-for books if you don't have an active credit card saved to your B&N account.
Google treats authors and readers decently, is not attempting to create a monopoly on books, and mostly treat folks who work for them decently.
It has fallen very far when the days when it's motto was 'don't be evil', but in this specific area, it's a not-horrible option.
Walmart's mistreatment of it's employees, expliting the US safetey net to avoid paying real wages, etc are well known, and they will only sell books by major publishers
As for how I vet them, with the exception of Walmart and the international sites, I have both published books on those platforms as an author and bought/borrowed books from them as a reader.
Other folks are welcome to make their own assessments.
@jessmahler This is all very interesting, thanks for the articulation.
I found it surprising because I've known several people who work for Google but didn't earn enough to live in an apartment and were living the street full time while working in Google's ancillary teams (janitor, cook, etc.) So I would say they also mistreat their non-tech employees. It just gets less press because it's a smaller number.
@jessmahler It's a solid rule of thumb to assume if a company is large enough to have staff that have to do traditionally low-wage jobs (and this is basically every mid-level tech company or higher) someone is getting exploited way worse than the average person at the company.
Guarantee you the same is true of all tech companies on the non avoid list with a physical office
@dualhammers A very good point, but at that point we're getting into 'ethical consumption is impossible under capitalism', and needing to navigate the least-bad options.
@jessmahler definitely, hence my initial curiosity about how you define "least bad enough."
Anyways, thanks for engaging my curiosity!
@jessmahler how about alibris.com for print books? their business model is meh but at least not amazon?
@jessmahler this is a really great resource! I occasionally dole out similar advice, but now I can just paste your link :)
@jessmahler Nice list -- boosted and bookmarked!
I've found myself following a similar priority list when choosing where to buy ebooks (and where to link to ebooks as well), which makes me wonder if I got the idea from one of your earlier posts!
Would you be interested in adding sites with good public domain collections, like Project Gutenberg and Standard EBooks? Or do you want to keep it focused on better purchasing choices?
@jessmahler They have a much smaller selection than PG, but they're a volunteer project focused on the publishing quality. Making all the type and spacing and spelling consistent, lots of proofreading, structuring the data for maximum usability across readers, stuff like that.
I've read several books they produced, and just started putting together one book's sequel (partly to get a sense of how epub works), and the style guide gets way into details like semantic marking of roman numerals.
@jessmahler I find the state of ebooks and e-readers to be frustrating. I dislike the vendor lock in and wish it were easier to remove drm and move my books too whichever e-reader I wished.
I am aware of calibre but had problems removing drm from Amazon books because I'm on Linux. It requires a very specific cert from a version of the kindle reader app on windows.
@obsolete29 Agreed. That's part of why I started putting together this list. I never did manage to strip DRm with Calibre -- largely because I don't have any windows comps anymore.
@joel My account is set to unlisted as default.
Folks are welcome to boost, copy and share the link, or spread however.
@jessmahler @68km thanks so much!! I would kill to have something better than MyMustReads. It’s so poor. Bookmarks don’t stick. Pages aren’t consistent and neither are page or line breaks. It loses position between closing and opening most of the time. Some ebooks support it solely and it’s so frustrating!
@jessmahler AFAIK, BookDepository is also owned by Amazon (yet keeps getting promoted as an alternative to).
Dymock's in Australia doesn't seem to offer eBooks, but they're an option for print books.
Booktopia (also in Australia) offers eBooks set up for Kobo or through their own app, plus physical books. Independent as far as I can find.
@jessmahler Can only speak to the catalogs for these - don't know about the internal publishing practices:
http://www.casas.co.za/Publications.aspx?SCATID=3 (no ebooks but international shipping being available for this stuff is huge)
Also, if you have access to a well-funded urban library sysyem, try making purchase requests - sometimes they will buy whatever they can source because people don't know this is an option & "public interest" tends to focus on bestsellers they are almost certainly already buying.
@jessmahler Maybe add itch.io and leanpub.com to the list? I bought mostly comics and TTRPGs on the former, but books are a thing.
@jessmahler this is good but fustratingly limited. What am I supposed to do when inevitably the book I want to read isn't available on any of these sources
@SEGFAULT Then you do without that book or find another source. Many folks have shared other sources in replies.
Or you decide to shop on Amazon.
Amazon has done a very good job of making itself a book giant where you can find 'everything'. But even Amazon doesn't really have everything. And because of it's walled garden approach, there are many things that can ONLY be found on Amazon.
Obviously, I think it's better not to shop on Amazon, and the reality is that I have done without many books I wanted to read because I couldn't find them anywhere else.
But everyone needs to make their own decision. Cutting out a relied upon resource always comes with a cost, and for some folks the cost is too high. That's okay. You need to do what is right for you.
If that means buying on Amazon if you can't find a book anywhere else, that's okay.
On the flip side, there's another way I can read your reply. I can read it as coming into the mentions of a disabled person who just did a lot of free labor for you and bitching at them for not doing more.
I'm giving benefit of the doubt here and doing more work to help. But if this second reading is what you were saying, please consider why that's a problem.
@jessmahler not at all, I was actually probing for advice for finding sources, as thanks to the walled garden that is the internet now even googling for local book stores is hard.
@jessmahler Can I offer a correction for Kobo? They have epub books you can download. The version and if they have Adobe DRM or not is noted on the shop page of the book. Most books from pig publishers have DRM, but there are DRM-free books, too, particularly from self-published authors. (To download, go to the "my books" page and click the three dots under the book; the meny opened by that has the download link.)
@jessmahler For print books, I believe biblio.com is not owned by Amazon. The independent used bookstore in my neighbourhood sells online through ABE, Amazon, and Biblio, so Biblio is the only online option for getting their books without going through Amazon.
@jessmahler Hey, nice!
Was gonna throw in a plug for Hoopla: https://www.hoopladigital.com/ . If your public library partners with them, they're pretty great. Lots of trad pub and indie pub (Draft2Digital distributes to them) and their whole catalog is available -- your library doesn't have to pick specific titles to buy beforehand, as with OverDrive.
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