I like this idea from Cory Doctorow, but monopolies tend to like exploiting their monopoly position. Still, it might be a way for Amazon to get around being scrutinised closely by regulators?
But what if buying local was as easy as shopping as Amazon? What if you could buy local while shopping on Amazon?
I got this idea from Library Extension, a browser plugin that notices if you’re looking at a book on Amazon and checks to see whether it’s available for checkout at your local library.
If the book is available to borrow at your public library, the extension shoves down Amazon’s “Add to Cart” button and draws a box with buttons to reserve that title at any of the local libraries that have it on the shelf.
This is basically awesome. It acknowledges that Amazon’s catalog, search, recommendations and reviews are useful to readers —and lets readers commodify all that stuff, treat it as infrastructure for discovering books to check out of your local library.
This is possible because books have standard identifiers: the ubiquitous ISBN. It’s easy for a plugin to recognize an ISBN when it sees it, and it’s easy for that plugin to look up the ISBN in another database.
In theory there’s no reason this has to be limited to checking books out of your library. You could just as easily write an extension that replaces Amazon’s “Add to Cart” button with a “Buy this on Bookshop.org” button. That’s the cool thing about unique identifiers — they’re great for cross-referencing.