It's the dream of every science fiction reader -- an endless bookshelf with all of our favorites, and always room for more. A library fit for a voyage across the light-years, with all those stories of strange new worlds, of wonders and adventures to be had for the price of a book.
But the bookstores never seemed to hold all the books we really wanted. It always seemed that books slipped out of print as rapidly as they came into print. You'd go into your local bookstore and find book three of a series that looked interesting, but could not find books one and two.
Even going to a used book store didn't necessarily guarantee success. Their stock was dependent upon what other readers chose to sell to them. A much sought-after book might also be one with which no one wanted to part. Determined collectors would often spend years fruitlessly scouring thrift stores, flea markets and dealers' tables at science fiction conventions in hopes of finding the last volume they needed to complete a set.
With the coming of the Internet, things changed. It became possible for the first time in history for a book buyer to have access to dozens of booksellers at once, particularly through the Amazon.com Marketplace program.
But that richness brought its own troubles with it. Suddenly the reader could be overwhelmed with choices, with no way to know which books were worth reading and which ones were complete stinkers.
Yet again, the very technology that caused the problem also came to the rescue. The World Wide Web made it easy for ordinary people to become publishers, and to produce presentations that look as sharp as those of the professionals. Readers could set up their own websites dedicated to the books they loved, with reviews and essays.