A couple weeks ago I read an interesting post at Book, Book, Book on the pros and cons of linking to Amazon in book reviews. She linked to a conversation going on in the comments to this post at Fuse #8. The questions Els posits are: should one link to Amazon in a book review? Is that selling books for them? Is is better to link to an independent bookstore or another site?
I often link to Amazon for pictures of the book cover (see Mitali's Fire Escape here for a discussion of copywrite). Sometimes I link Amazon if the reviews there are interesting or helpful. Sometimes they are written by people who obviously haven't read the book, however. I prefer to link to the author and illustrator's website directly, to the publisher's site, or to other reviews of the book.
There is another option that I am exploring. You can link to WorldCat, the world wide online catalog of library books. I like to think of it as a way to encourage people to use their local library. You can read about it here on Wikipedia which starts out saying, "WorldCat is the world's largest bibliographic database, built and maintained collectively by libraries that participate in the OCLC global cooperative". Here's a link to the search page at WorldCat. You can put a widget in the sidebar of your blog by getting the code here. Then instead of worrying about which bookstore you are hosting you can promote libraries!
I haven't used it extensively myself yet so I am not sure how well that will work. As a librarian I can easily look up books and use the statewide network for interlibrary loan, so that is what I usually do to find books for personal reading. I am going to try linking WorldCat for book reviews for a while and see how that goes. I would appreciate your feedback. Try searching for some books and let me know if you find them in your local library. I put the widget in the sidebar.
I am teaching my students how to use the online libraries in our area for research and to find books and I am sad to discover that many of them don't have library cards. They don't realize that they can search, reserve and renew books online by putting in their card number and password. It seems that would be an obvious possibility for these kids that expect to do everything else online. How many of you go to the library online? If you see a great book review would you rather quickly find it in a local library or order it for purchase?