British Library Under Fire for Linking to Amazon

The venerable British Library is being criticized this week for a new suggested sales platform that it is currently testing.

The online catalog for the British Library now includes an extra link on most book listings. In addition to request reserve, and checkout a title, patrons can now also find the book on Amazon.co.uk. If Amaozn doesn’t have the title then the page lists a “More titles to consider” link instead.

Naturally this has Amazon’s competitors up in arms . Johnny de Falbe, co-owner of London’s Sandoe bookshop, had this to say: “The British Library, a public institution, should not be offering this link to Amazon, which is not (last I heard) a public institution. And if the British Library, of all people, are not supporting British bookshops, and positively steering business away from independents, then why should anyone else have any faith, or interest, in independents?”

And he’s not alone. James Daunt, managing director of Waterstone’s, was not pleased with the development, saying: “It’s disappointing to say the least that a very British institution is driving readers away from local libraries and high street bookshops. In an environment where high street booksellers and libraries face huge pressures, it is a shame that the British Library choose to give their endorsement to one aggressively commercial organisation.”

The British Library is on the record as saying that this was not a deliberate choice; it’s the default option for the platform offered by ExLibris, the company who built the British Library’s website.

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image By Emily Barney

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