It's very disappointing, but the online photos are not very good. IMO the shoes look much better in real life. After a few visits to an AE store, I became comfortable with the product lines, fit, color, and material. Then I started ordering by phone from an AE store. Short answer, with some experience you will become more comfortable and confident ordering AEs without trying them on.
Suede is robust and versatile. Learn to love it, and it will treat you very well. Though it's a matter of taste; I like the Indy boots after they've been beaten up a bit. Adds character. More importantly, the boots are built to withsatnd the abuse. Don't worry about it and enjoy your Indys!