Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sweet, Sweet Relief to Us All

With today's LA Times interview with Russ Grandinetti, VP for content or some crap from Amazon, by Alex Pham, I feel like I had a mini epiphany. I think it was when Grandinetti said one of many lines that Amazon trots out regularly, like well-trained politicians, this one about Amazon's vision to make "every book ever written, in any language, in print or out of print, all available within 60 seconds. And we want to make the customer experience great." For the first time (I think), I found myself thinking, "oh.... oh, okay. Fine. Make "books" available in seconds. Do that, if you must, and just let the rest of us get on with our lives without having to hear about your friggin' vision." And then I thought, perhaps naively, that maybe we are seeing the splintering of markets, and those readers that want to read electronically, within seconds of thinking of a title or author, and [heart] Amazon more than ever can buy their li'l protected devices and use them to buy their li'l e-books and just exist, like a cult. And when I need a new book, I can go to the Boston Public Library or the Harvard Bookstore or the Brattle Book Shop or Aaron's bookshelf and get a new book to read, and not have to hear about / think about / even know about the latest Amazon stats. Because I'm kind of done.

But what pleases me about this idea is thinking about how often I've thought this, and others have said it, about Amazon but also about B&N and Borders. It does feel like these oversized, impractical dinosaurs are shuffling away. They are turning their big fat backs on printed books, which has pissed many of us off, but now... well maybe we can leave them behind, and stick to the tried and trusted independent stores and libraries. This isn't necessarily to say all e-books are bad (though Christopher might say they are), but it is to say that I'm ready to log off my computer and spend more quality time with Joe Lesueur's Digressions on Some Poems by Frank O'Hara and not look at a screen. I'm kind of like this guy (William Petrocelli, owner of Book Passage in northern Cali). So me and that guy and some of you can all quietly relax at home and let Amazon fatcats like Grandinetti spout quotes from whatever recent Amazon press release has been pooped out of corporate headquarters, and guess what? We don't have to listen!

But we can and should watch Patti Smith on Newshour here, because she will charm you. That's a promise. Just watch it real quick, go on, and then you can read. For serious, it's worth a bit more screen time.

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