book sales account for a diminishing share of its overall business; the company is no longer principally a bookseller. After all, even the larger 60,000-square-foot emporiums of Barnes Noble and Borders could carry no more than 175,000 titles. Was there really a secret plot to destroy literature, as the magazine alleged? Support Progressive Journalism, the Nation is reader supported: Chip in 10 or more to help us continue to write about the issues that matter. The feel of a book taken from the shelf and held in the hand is a magical experience, linking writer to reader.
If so, Amazon will likely be surprised, as the editors of such journals have well-deserved reputations for biting the hand that feeds, and they prize their contrarian sensibilities. To fully appreciate the fear that is sucking the oxygen out of publishers suites, it is important to understand what a steamroller Amazon has become.
Like shrines and other sacred meeting places, bookstores are essential artifacts of human nature. Jacob Stevens, the managing director of Verso, the distinguished independent press spawned by the London-based New Left Review, says of Amazon: Having our backlist instantly and immediately available has so far outweighed the problems. He also owns m, a baby products website. He claimed that Amazon simply provided a different service and wasnt trying to snuff bricks-and-mortar stores. Not unlike small independent bookstores, bricks-and-mortar retailers such as Walmart, Home Depot and Best Buy are feeling the ground give way beneath them. His admiration for Bezos was mixed with a certain bemusement; he knew that for Amazon to really revolutionize bookselling, physical books would have to be transformed into bits and bytes capable of being delivered seamlessly. We in answer fire a broadside of flesh at it and cry Yes! Clerks at the chains might not intimately know the tastes and predilections of the surrounding neighborhood, but the price was right: lower was better, lowest was best. Perhaps its time for him to acquire a rotary phone, available in five retro colors and eligible for two-day Prime shipping on his very own site.
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