Alternatives to Amazon for buying digital and print books

Recently, much fuss has been made about Amazon’s aggressive moves toward a book publisher, Hachette. Long story short, negotiations between the two have broken down, with Amazon opting to use hardball tactics. Among other methods, Amazon’s delayed shipping of Hachette books, raised their prices, and is even refusing to sell certain books, sticking a “currently unavailable” tag on them. More details about all this are available in this New York Times article.

While I suppose Amazon’s counting on its position as the “Wal-Mart” of the online world to get what it wants/have its customers forget there’s other places to shop for books, it doesn’t change the fact that there are, well, other places to buy books. While they aren’t as cheap as Amazon, the vendors aren’t playing hardball with publishers. I’d note some of these are the same sellers from my list of Comixology alternatives (Comixology a recent Amazon purchase).

Digital

  • Kobo: Kobo’s still available, even if its most popular US partner, Borders, went under.
  • Nook: Barnes and Noble’s having problems lately, but are still around, including its Nook store.
  • iBooks: Apple’s own ebook store.
  • Google Books: Google’s taken to selling ebooks through its own Google Play store.
  • O’Reilly: The publisher of various lines of books, including the famed “Dummies” series of instructional guides. One advantage: their books are all DRM-free.
  • Various niche-oriented sellers, such as Tor, which specializes in science-fiction. Tor’s ebooks are DRM-free.
  • Public domain books, such as Project Gutenberg and Feedbooks. I prefer the latter, as their books come with nicer formatting/covers. DRM-free, of course.

Paper

  • Barnes and Noble: Despite its problems, Barnes and Noble’s still around, as a staple in various malls, downtown areas, etc.
  • Books-a-Million: With the demise a few years ago of Borders, this chain became the second-biggest physical bookseller in the United States.
  • Powell’s: Powell’s is an independent bookstore chain based around the Portland, Oregon area. However, they also offer service everywhere outside of Portland via its website.
  • Local bookstores: They still exist, and probably will be needed moreso if anything does happen to Barnes and Noble.
  • The public library: Yes, the library still exists, too, and will surely have plenty of copies of the latest J.K. Rowling book that Amazon’s blacklisting.

Any of these (and probably others I’ve missed) should serve print or digital book buyers just as well as Amazon. If one’s looking for a way to convert (DRM-free) EPUB format ebooks into Kindle’s format, I’d suggest the ebook management software Calibre, which is available for Windows, OS X, and Linux.

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